Monday, April 30, 2007

Slavering Or Mouthwatering?

Every day I come home and this is what I see:

The kids are fond of her. But they're not fussy. They'd love a dung beetle. Hell, they love me, in their own peculiar way.

She's a horse, though. Ninety pounds of submissive pound mutt.

My question: Pet or Food?


1. Likes meat...........................................................Is made of meat
2. Part of the family................................................Bigger part of the family than me
3. Loves the kids.....................................................The kids love food
4. The kids love her................................................Who cares?
5. Protects my house..............................................Does not protect my budget
6. Lies on my feet....................................................Craps in my yard
7. This one time, killed a rabbit...................,.........This one time, killed a rabbit
8. My family would kill me if I ate her.................My family would kill me if I ate her
9. Is a lab..................................................................Could be sold to a lab
10. Priceless.............................................................Worthless

Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's A Beautiful Day For A Ballgame! Let's Play Two!

Finally, Opening Day. A perfect morning, a soft breeze, T-shirt weather at last. The kids wearing their new uniforms for the first time, still clean, not yet ripped and sorry-looking.

To celebrate, the volunteers put in a little extra effort. The players got announced one-by-one, running out and taking a spot along the baselines as their names and positions were read off over the PA system. As the national anthem played, they held their caps over their hearts, excited and scared to be the center of attention.

Then, game time. Our guys started a little slow, but so did the other team and we hung in there. Our big break came with the bases loaded and Slorn at the plate. He may be a goofball, but he's got a good eye and he managed to squeeze out a walk. When he got to first, I leaned over, knocked knucks with him, and said, "Way to go, bud. You just got the team's first RBI of the season." He looked slightly stunned for a moment. Then he grinned, said, "Cool," and looked towards second base with interest.

A couple of innings later, another one of our foundlings came up for his third at-bat. His prior ones had been three strikes up and down, ineffectual waves at pitches that weren't particularly close to the plate.

Again, an 0-2 count. Coach P. called time-out and waved him over. "Hey, what are you doing?"

The boy looked puzzled. "Not really sure, Coach."

"I can tell. Look, you've got two strikes and you need to protect the plate, but it's like batting practice. Just hit it."

"Okay, Coach."

Next pitch, he fouled off. The pitch after that he lined into the outfield for the hardest hit ball of the game, almost passing out with excitement when he reached first. So excited, in fact, that he couldn't hear me telling him to take two. So it goes.

And so it went. My youngest got a hit, preserving the two-year hitting streak that he believes puts him on par with DiMaggio. Good plays, bad plays, solid hits, strike-outs. Back and forth, until going into the last inning our team was down by five.

Now, at this level there's still a five-run rule, so the best we could do was even it up. We did, with P.'s son hitting a shot into right field to score three runners. If we could hold the other team scoreless, the game would end in a tie. If that's good enough for a Major League All Star game, it's good enough for us.

And there we were, a runner on third and needing one more out. Our pitcher delivered, the batter connected, and the ball lofted high over second base. The center fielder came after it, reached out his glove, and. . .

On a day like that, who cares?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

In The On Deck Circle . . . .

We had the final team meeting tonight before this weekend's Opening Day. P., the guy I coach with, started by talking to the parents while the kids warmed up and looked at their new uniforms.

"There are three things we want to make sure everybody understands. First, the batting order is on a rotating alphabetical basis. During the course of the season everyone will bat lead-off a couple of times and everyone will bat clean-up a couple of times."

The parents of the child whose last name starts with "Z" shuddered.

"We're doing it alphabetically by first name."

They relaxed.

"Second, every kid is going to play every position he can handle without getting hurt or embarrassed. Catchers, pitchers, and first basemen have to be able to handle the ball. The rest of the positions are fair game. If your son wants to spend some extra time catching or throwing, give one of us a call. We're going to spend most of our free time for the next couple of months at the field with our own kids anyways."

No kidding. It's the only way to get them to shut up.

"Third, the most important thing is that we have fun. We'd rather lose all our games and have a blast than win them all without enjoying it."

The parents nodded and smiled, a good sign for the season ahead.

I took Slorn out to work on his throwing while P. warmed up the other kids. After a bit we talked about force plays, and stealing, and relays. A couple of the guys were clearly bored ("Please stand up and pay attention, yes you") but, God help us, a third of our kids have never played before and it's got to be done.

Then it was time to practice getting out of the way of wild pitches. P. tells them, "Listen, just dive out of the way. Don't try to protect yourself with the bat."

"If my bat's a light saber, can I just cut the ball in half?"

The kids laugh. P. and I look at each other, then we laugh too.

"Only if your parents have a good dental plan," says P. I'm not sure the kids get it, but they know it's supposed to be funny so they laugh some more. There are a few more light saber jokes, then we get back to work. They look okay, better than we'd thought a few weeks ago.

Practice ends. We gather the boys around.

"Opening Day is Saturday," we say. "You guys ready?"

They nod, serious. Like warriors, or the way they think warriors should be, or the way that actors pretend to be warriors.

"Good. Here's what we want. If you strike out, have fun. If a ball goes through your legs, chase it and have fun. If you lose, have fun. Does everybody understand?"

They think for a moment. There are a few, my youngest and P.'s son among them, who hate losing.

"Does everybody understand?" we ask again.

"Yes, coach," they reply, not completely convinced.

It doesn't matter whether they believe it. What matters is that they hear it, that they hear it from us, from their parents, from all the adults in their lives that teach them how to grow up. That they hear it, over and over and over.

Opening Day is Saturday. We're going to have fun.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Just When I've Had Enough

The middle boy came home today while I was on the phone.


Crap, I'm on a business call.


I snap my fingers a few times, trying to get his attention from the study.


"Sorry," I say into the phone. "Just a second."

I stick my head out the door. "Hang on, buddy, I've got to finish."

My client laughs when she hears me. "Say hi to your son," she says. I like my client.

We finish the call and I go upstairs. He's eating popcorn and watching SportsCenter.

"What's up?" I ask. I hate popcorn. It stinks, it gives me a stomachache, and I always eat too much.

"I got my math test back," he says, smiling that awkward grin that a lot of middle schoolers have, not little boys any more but not yet adults. I got an 'A.' Pretty good, huh?"

"Yes it is. Pretty damn good. Way to go, man."

We do the high five thing, I muss his hair, and he turns back to the television. I look at him for a minute, wondering how this kid came to be.

Pretty damn good. He is that.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What Is The Sound Of One Boy Yapping?

Our baseball team had its first scrimmage this weekend. As I could have predicted, it started raining about an hour before the scheduled start. Several of the parents called, clearly hoping it was going to be canceled, but I'm nothing if not stubborn, and damn it, I wanted to see some baseball.

Most of the boys showed up. After the rain had lessened from torrent to downpour, we bolted from our cars to the field. The parents dutifully followed, huddling together for warmth under umbrellas and trees. When my youngest complained that he was cold, I told him to go stand in the outfield and hold up his aluminum bat so that the lighting wouldn't hit the rest of the kids. We weren't actually playing in a thunderstorm, even I'm not that stupid (or at least the team mom isn't), but it did keep him from bitching at me for a few minutes.

And what a weekend for for that it was. It started last Thursday, actually, when he was begging me to buy him something. I'm not quite sure what he wanted, I wasn't paying that much attention, but he annoyed me to the extent that he got "The goddamn money tree isn't in bloom" speech.

My other kids know me well enough that they'll usually be quiet for a few minutes when I'm off on this particular tirade. Not my youngest, however. Like I'm stubborn? He's worse, by a factor of 10 or 20. I think he gets it from his mother.

In any event, halfway through a long and involved lecture on Snag Family microeconomic theory, he starts in with, "I know you have enough money to buy it for me. I saw that letter you got from the bank." Meaning my retirement account statement. That'll teach me to leave the mail on the counter.

I tell him, "That's the money I need to retire someday." I doubt I'll ever use it because my kids will be the death of me long before that day, but I like to dream.

"Oh," he says, "you want to retire. I guess that means you're too lazy to work."

"Jesus Christ. That's right, I'm too lazy to work when all I do is haul my sorry hide into the office every day so I can buy crap for you and your brothers. Like the golf clubs you want for your birthday, which at this rate you're never going to get. I'll give them to some poor kids instead."

"See," he replies. "You hate me. You like the poor kids better."

At this point, he's more right than he knows, but I'm not going to acknowledge that. Instead I tell him, "Knock it off. I coach your soccer, your basketball, your baseball, I spend a freaking fortune on you. You're the most spoiled kid I know."

"Katie doesn't like you." This apparent non sequitur is a reference to our black Lab's presumed solidarity with him.

"I don't care," I tell him. "She has rabies anyways, like Cujo. We're going to have to put her to sleep soon, before she attacks you."

"You can't. We'll put you to sleep first."

"Good," I answer. "You'll be doing me a favor. Then you can take my money and go buy a better dad."

He pauses for a minute to contemplate this attractive possibility. It's the best part of my day so far. Then he starts in again.

"I bet you won't even buy me Tic-Tacs. No, you need the 87 cents to retire."

Enough. I turn up the music, and the Raveonettes temporarily drown him out. To think my mother recommended taking him to a speech therapist when he was two "because he doesn't seem to talk very much."

Besides being stubborn, he makes a hobby out of nursing grudges. It made for a tiresome weekend. Every time he was denied a hot dog at the park, a basketball at the sporting goods store (where, incidentally, he got his new golf clubs), or any other bright and shiny thing that caught his attention, it was, "Oh, you won't buy that for me. You want to retire." Said with a tone that one would normally reserve to accuse someone of molesting farm animals.

Then came the scrimmage. We weren't out there long, it was raining too hard for that, but everyone got a chance to bat. When it ended, we headed home for dinner. As he got out of the car, he looked over, gave me a smile, and said, "Thanks, Dad. That was fun."

Which is the reason I did it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Come On Down To Snag's Place, Baby

Spring has sprung! Tonight the neighborhood is celebrating with an old-fashioned game feed. We'll be firing up the grills and smokers, opening up some homemade brew, and shoving food down our gullets.

Just look what's on the menu:

Grilled udder - Around here, we only use line-caught cows.

Braised possum - No need to stuff them, they're already full!

Pan-fried yarbles - A melt-in-your-mouth delicacy.

Roots - If you like root vegetables, you'll love roots.

Smoked face - Beef, pork, chicken, fish, it's all good.

Siamese cheese - It's not easy milking a cat, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

Thorn pie - If a little roughage is good, a lot is better.

So stop on by. We'll have yak races, an ass-painting booth, and skeet shooting for the little ones. At midnight we'll stoke the fire, cordon off the area, and have our annual drawing.

Hope to see you. Maybe you'll be this year's lucky winner!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Coach Of The Year, Part 2

The other night at baseball one of the kids came up to us after practice. He's a 9-year-old.

"Hey coach."

"Hey bud. You were hitting pretty well out there tonight."

"Yeah. Sure. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I'm never going to be a major leaguer."

"You never know," we told him.

"It doesn't matter, he said. "Music's my passion. I want to be a rock star."

"That's good too."

"I think so. By the way, who's the team parent?"

We told him.

"Thanks," he said and started walking away.

This could be a problem.

"Wait a second, come back here," I yelled. "Why do you want to know?"

"I need to talk to her about my uniform."

"About what?" I asked.

"I don't like my last name. I'm going to tell her to put something else on it."

"Um, sorry, that's not going to work," I told him. "Everybody's going to be using their real names."

"Last year my coach called me Sporto."

"Well, we'll call you anything you want," I said, "but you still need your real name on your jersey."

"Okay. Will you call me Slorn?"

I shrugged. "I guess, if you want me to. Coach P., you okay with that?"

Coach P. rolled his eyes and said, "Sure."

I looked at the kid and said, "You're kind of a goofball, aren't you?"

"Yeah," he replied as he headed toward the parking lot. "We have a lot of goofballs in my class. A couple of idiots too."

It's going to be an interesting season.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Coach Of The Year, Part 1

I ask my youngest tonight, "Hey, that boy I hit in the eye with the ball yesterday. How's he doing?"

"I don't know. Our teacher said he wasn't at school today because he couldn't see."

Great. I've blinded a kid. I call his parents.

"Hi, it's Coach Snag. How's he doing?"

His dad says, "Oh, he's alright. It's just that the eye closed up overnight so we kept him home for the day. His headache's pretty much gone, though, so he should be back at practice tomorrow night."

Blinded him and fractured his skull. I'm feeling good about myself.

"Do you want me to give him a ride to practice tomorrow, save you a trip?" I ask.

Long pause.

"No. No, really, we're good."

"You sure?" I ask. Like they're going to let their son get in my car after this.

"Yes," his father answers, probably thinking, More sure than I've ever been about anything in my life.

I wouldn't expect to see the boy again except they bought him a nice new glove a few weeks ago. Last night, after consoling his son and getting him back on the field, the dad said, "I paid a lot of money for that glove. I don't care what happens, this year he plays baseball."

A parent after my own heart.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Sun Got In His Eyes

I gave a black eye tonight to one of the boys on our baseball team. A high fly ball that he didn't quite catch. Although his dad finally convinced him not to quit baseball on the spot, he spent the rest of the night edging away every time I came near him.

At least we know he's trainable.

Bon Appétit, Volume 1

A post over at The Republic of Dogs brought to mind some of my favorite Snag family recipes. I'd like to share a few with you.

1. Roast Goldendoodle

Bring a well-trimmed 4-5 lb. goldendoodle loin roast to room temperature. Combine 1 tsp rosemary, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil, 4 crumbled Double Stuf Oreos, and salt and pepper to taste. Thoroughly coat roast with olive oil mixture. Bake in 375 degree oven approximately one hour for medium rare. Slice thinly and serve with braised fennel.

2. Poached Eel

Kill and clean desired number of eels, reserving liquid. Fill a 3-quart sauce pan with approximately 4 inches of water. Bring water to a boil. Gently immerse eels in poaching liquid and immediately turn off heat. Allow eels to cook for 3 minutes. Remove and serve atop toast with reserved eel liquid.

3. Turnip Flambé

Peel and dice approximately 2 pounds of turnips. Heat two tablespoons WD-40 in a nonstick frying pan. When kitchen fills with toxic smoke, add turnips and sauté for 90 minutes or until tender. Add 1 gallon of good quality rum and flee. When fire subsides, scrape turnips from remains of pan and discard.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Welcome To The Snagitorium

I spend too much time with my kids, I think. Throwing them in a van and dragging them around the country usually seems like a good idea. Then there always comes a time like the afternoon somewhere in Maine when my four-year-old son started shrieking from the back seat, "I've got a baby in my uterus! It's a great big baby!" Of course the windows were open and we were in the middle of town. Yay for us.

I took the three boys to Florida a few years ago. My Lovely Bride couldn't get away from work, it was winter break, and going to the beach wasn't a bad alternative to lying around the house screaming at the family for two weeks. So off we went.

The first few days weren't bad. We went to some national parks that were pretty much empty (because what kind of moron goes to the top of a freezing mountain three days before Christmas), took in some Civil War battlefields (leading my wife to later question why trip revolved around cannons and warships), and generally had a good time.

Then we got to the beach. Now, we were on the Panhandle, where I'd gotten a hell of a deal on a hotel room. One hundred bucks for a room with a balcony looking at the ocean. Did it occur to me to wonder why? No, of course not. I'm a pinhead.

The Panhandle's cold in winter, for those of you as geographically challenged as I am. No matter, though, there's a pool, right? Sure, until some infant craps in it, rendering it off-limits for two days under the state health code.

I give up. We go out for dinner, my kids begging me to let them eat the sugar packets on the table. "Go ahead," I say. I'm done.

The waiter comes over to see 10 or 12 packages of pure cane sugar ripped open, the kids twitching and giggling.

"What can I get you?" he asks.

"Liquor. Lots of liquor. In fact, have one yourself and give me five minutes of adult conversation. Big tip in it for you."

"I'm afraid I can't do that sir," he replies, starting to back away nervously.

"For the love of God, don't leave me here alone.

"No, never mind, forget it. Just bring me a drink. Bring me a couple while you're at it."

A couple of days later, we pack to leave and I go to put the luggage in the back of our Ford minivan. The rear door hasn't opened the entire way, however, and I bash my face. We head out of town, blood dripping down into my eyes, the boys getting a 20-minute lecture on the decline of American manufacturing standards, punctuated with liberal doses of every swear word I can think of (and I can think of a lot). Finally, my oldest leans forward and says, "Dad, maybe we should all just get a good night's rest."

That was several years and thousands of miles in the past. It hasn't gotten better.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Happy April 15!

I just finished my taxes and I want to say how Jim-dandy happy I am about the whole experience!

Actually, the only real problem I had with the whole thing was the stupid e-filing software package I bought, which required 4 hours of trying various workarounds to get it to accept my deductions. Listing the child credit as reimbursement for pain and suffering probably didn't help, but still.

I almost like paying taxes. Note I said almost. I doubt that anyone really enjoys it. Still, I get schools and roads and fire departments and police and courts and national defense and the SEC, FTC, FAA, and EPA, just to name a few of the benefits. As part of the upper-middle class, I use my share of these services, probably way more than the average poor person, so if I can help cover some of the cost, than good for all of us.

Besides, when I hear the stories about how government should run more like a business (hat tip to our first MBA president, George W. Bush, the "W" stands for "We're fucked!"), I have to laugh. Government's big and big organizations are inefficient. I've worked for Fortune 100 companies that make our friends in the Washington bureaucracy look like libertarian entrepreneurs. I've worked with the military, the one type of government that conservatives love, and wouldn't suggest using that as a role model for how to run things. On the other hand, I've worked with small nonprofits and local units of government that are amazingly efficient. Government, private enterprise, in my experience people aren't very different. In the end, the further away one gets from one's revenue source, the easier it is to take it for granted.

That's not really the point, however. The point is, things cost money. Navies and hospitals and education and everything else that we get from government cost money. They cost a whole bunch of money, more than I can really claim to grasp.

But that's alright, because I'm only paying a tiny little share. A statistically insignificant piece, from everybody's perspective but my own. And that's alright too, because when all those statistically insignificant contributions get put together, we've not only built a warship or an emergency room or a high school, we've built a civilization. And while that's sometimes an ugly process, and sometimes a painful one, in the end it's one I feel pretty good about.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Let's Play Two!

There have been some great ballplayers over the last 100 years. Who are the top 5? Here are my picks:

1. Ding-Dong Wankenfuss.

Part of the famous Tinkers-Evers-Wankenfuss double play combination, Ding-Dong earned his name the hard way, by getting hit in the head. A tragic 8th-inning bowel obstruction cut short his career. Little League parks throughout mid-Central Oklahoma are still named for this fan favorite.

2. Wild Willie Taser.

The namesake of crowd control devices the world over, Wild Willie was both a renowned pitcher and a mass murderer. Pitching in the days before batting helmets, he enjoyed carving the names of his victims into his belt, an artifact which even today is preserved in a special locked room at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. Francine McDillermot.

Both a suffragette and an ace reliever, "Pantaloons" McDillermot has been memorialized on the 27,000 rupee coin currently in circulation in the Hindu Kush mountains. McDillermot disappeared during a barnstorming tour of Alabama shortly after declaring free agency.

4. Deembob Registrar

A fierce competitor and the first extraterrestrial to play the game professionally, Registrar had perhaps the best forkball of all time. Although he collected 200 wins in an 11-year career with the Yankees, he was sold for dog food by George Steinbrenner after a dismal 3-15 season.

5. Ernie the Eelpout

Famous for his trademark phrase, "Hey, is that a dogfish in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" Ernie is now doing play-by-play for the Lincoln Lampreys of the Invasive League. Ernie set major league records in stolen bases and hot dogs consumed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

This weekend is the annual park clean-up day for the local baseball league. Afterwards there's a picnic in one of the pavilions, with hot dogs and hamburgers cooked by yours truly and some other poor saps whose wives wanted them out of the house. God knows how many kids will be there, whacked out on soda and candy, running around like short-circuited Disney animatrons, while the parents try to slink away and stick the coaches with the problem.

Oh yeah. I've been there in other years, refusing to make eye contact with one of my boys, pretending that I just happened to wander into this hellscape. Not this weekend. No, this time I'll be front and center, pretending that I'm not a misanthrope, pretending that I'm having fun, pretending that this isn't some horrible experiment gone wrong.

Christ, I need a drink already.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Deus Ex Suburbia

We don't write poetry
or novels.
Or paint or draw.

We rise in the morning,
the coffee is made,
the paper is on the table,
the children are gone.

We leave and do our jobs
and the world is mostly unchanged.

Then comes evening,
when the sun is heavy in the sky,
when the bats and martins circle,
when the boys and girls are shouting on the fields.

We of the gray flannel suits,
we parents and burghers,
grasp and smile,
tired and refreshed.

And the world, mostly unchanged, smiles and changes with us.
If only but a little.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Daddy Loves You

They guy I coach with and I took a few kids to the batting cage today. They were all hitting pretty well, although the bunting seemed to throw my youngest off a little. I expect it's because he's so used to his brothers throwing at his head that he's a little nervous about squaring away.

About halfway through, he glanced over and asked, "How come you never say 'Good job' when I get a hit?"

Next pitch he drilled one.

My friend said, "Good job, Precious! That was a very special hit."

I said, "You hit that one like a big boy, sweetheart. Daddy's very proud of you."

Someday I'm going to pay for my fun.

Parent Of The Year, Part 5

We're not too faithful, if you will, about the religion stuff around here. I think my kids were inside a house of worship once, to see a relative baptised or something, but I can't even swear to that.

I had the best intentions early on. Although I'm not much of a believer myself, I thought it would be good for children to at least get the cultural information that comes from some kind of religious training. Then they were born, weekend mornings started coming earlier and earlier, and another set of best intentions went right out the window. I've instead devoted my life to being such an outstanding role model that there is no need for them to get formalized spiritual instruction.

[Pause for laughter.]

For the most part, it's worked out pretty well. The boys seem honest, caring, respectful, all the things that I'd hope for as a parent. The only thing sometimes missing is the cultural information. A lot of it's been picked up through forums other than church; for example, you'd be amazed how much can be learned about biblical history by listening to Ned Flanders on "The Simpsons." Once in a while, though, there are gaps.

Yesterday, one of our kids started calling around, trying to find a friend who could play. We warned him that people were going to be busy because of Easter.

"What's the big deal about Easter?" he asked.

"You know who Jesus is?"

"I'm not stupid," he replied.

"Well, Christians believe that Easter is the day when Jesus rose from the dead."

"You mean Jesus was a zombie?"

He hasn't burst into flames yet. I suppose that's a good sign.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

I Can See For Miles And Miles

I'm finally done with the traveling for now, thank God. Sitting in a vehicle staring at hundreds of miles of nothing is enough to make anyone crazy, and as I sit pretty close to that edge under the best of circumstances, my family was taking good care to make sure that the insurance was paid up.

Highlights of my travels include:

Lying in bed on Monday, praying that I'd die before I had to get up.

The person who complained about the Indian casino on the grounds that "we shouldn't give our money to foreigners."

Lying in bed on Tuesday, praying that I'd die before I had to get up.

My son, who spent the week traveling with me, looking at me after I told him to start calling me "sir" and saying, "Alright. Sir Cumference."

Lying in bed on Wednesday, praying that I'd die before I had to get up.

Explaining to a skeptical but still horrified group of dinner companions that the recipe for bird poppers involves hollowing out baby waterfowl, filling them with cream cheese, and deep frying them.

Lying in bed on Thursday, praying that I'd die before I had to get up.

Hearing someone say, "The food is really bad here. And they don't give you nearly enough." Unfortunately, this person was not doing a one-man vaudeville retrospective.

Lying in bed on Friday, praying that I'd die before I had to get up.

Driving in an 90-minute circle on an unpaved county road because I trusted a map instead of my common sense.

Lying in bed on Saturday, guessing that I'd die now that I was past hoping for it.
It's nice to be home.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

I Wish That Voice Was In My Head

In the last three years, I have given the same presentation 45 times. Granted, my audiences are blessed with a compelling speaker, someone who combines a Bono-like charisma with the rapier wit of a modern day Oscar Wilde. And, of course, the physical presence of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. They are captivated, moved to laughter and tears in a rising crescendo of emotion, until it finally ends and it is all they can do to resist rushing the lectern to engulf me in their love.

On the other hand, I'm beginning to hate the sound of my own voice. I wish I knew a joke in Esperanto. That would break things up a little.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Where In The World

I had dinner at an Olympic medalist's restaurant tonight. I'm in the middle of nowhere, absolutely no reason for this place to produce an Olympian, but it did.

He was back in the kitchen working. No medal hanging around his neck, just a guy. His kid was wandering around the kitchen and the Olympian picked him up, smiled, twirled around, and got back to work.

When we left, he waved to us. He looked like one of my drinking buddies. He was just like me in fact, except that at the thing he does best, there's pretty much nobody in the world who's better.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Stupid Ohio State

My youngest just won the family NCAA pool for the second year in a row. That means a full year of "Threepeat!" and "In your face!" I hope we find his real parents soon.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Nothing Could Be Finer

My middle boy's with me this week as I complete my business trip, driving hundreds of miles over the next few days. School's out for spring break and I asked him to come along. I like his company, he's funnier than hell, and he could stand a few days away from his brothers. Middle child's a hard spot; you get it from both ends and we parents don't always make the time we should to understand.

He wasn't sure if he wanted to come. At first, it seemed like a punishment.

"Why do I have to go? Why not my brothers?"

"Because you get the short end of the stick a lot of the time. I want to spoil you for a change."

"What am I going to do while you're working?"

"Hang out in the hotel room. Read. Play video games. Eat junk food. At night we'll watch basketball, baseball, go have pizza, hang out. It'll be fun."

"Okay. Maybe. But why me?"

"You're a good kid. We'll have a blast."

Because I love you son, and you're my greatest joy.