Archives for November 2010

The Worst First Date…Ever

Ladies, if a man tells you that men never tell tales you need to immediately call him upon the carpet and let him know that you know better. Because the reality is that we do share stories with our friends, colleagues and brothers-in-arms. We exchange tales of bravery and childhood stupidity. We talk about the girls that once were and the girls that are. And sometimes after a few beers the tales turn to those that we might prefer to keep under wraps.

I remember one such occasion with a mixture of clarity and confusion. It will be up to you to determine if the haze that lies upon my eyes was placed there by a bottle of single malt or the shifting sands of time. Up to you to decide if I have taken liberties to smooth and polish the tale or tales you might read here.

Time is fleeting, madness takes its toll so we must begin…..

Ten years ago when I was a younger man, so much younger than today I was a new father who attacked each day with vigor. Carpe Diem was a motto and a mantra. I was determined to suck the marrow out of life. I had many responsibilities and required but a few hours of sleep so when the call came it was easy to rouse myself from bed.

The man behind the call was a good friend who at the time was among the very few people I knew that was divorced. His mental and emotional state wasn’t great and I had spent many hours listening to him talk about the end of a marriage. It was a sad thing, but for the best.

And I was more than a little excited for him when he finally began to date. He deserved to find a good woman and happiness. So when he called and asked if I could meet him at our favorite coffee shop I went expecting to hear a good story.

We sat down, ordered two cups of Joe and a couple of slices of pie. For a moment we did nothing but shoot the breeze and talk about how crazy it was for me to be a father. The baby hadn’t come yet, but we were close to D-Day so it was starting to become real. I  laughed at how different our situations were. He was busy trying to find a woman to knock boots with and well, I had done some different knocking.

In a soft voice he began to tell me about his date. She wasn’t the first he had gone out with but she was the one he was most excited about. They hit a quiet restaurant for drinks and a meal. He had intentionally made an early reservation so that if things went well they could hit a show afterwards. Aside from he and his date there were relatively few people there.

On the far side of the room there was a table full of older women that kept breaking out into laughter. Just to the right of them a server on break sat quietly eating dinner. About ten feet in front of the server a lone man sat with a drink and a copy of the Wall Street Journal.

Against this backdrop were my friend and his date. Things are going quite well. They are sharing thoughts and stories about themselves. She laughs at his jokes and tells him that she thinks he is quite funny. The meal comes and she makes a point to share hers with him. He starts to think that maybe there is something to this when life happens.

The front door bursts open and the Wicked Witch of the West waltzes in with a team of flying monkeys. She is clearly pissed off and he just knows that she is going to walk up to his date and demand that she give him her ruby slippers.

Ok, scratch that. There were no flying monkeys nor a witch. However, there was a woman. A woman who walked over to the table that the single man was sitting at. My friend watched as the man folded his newspaper and pulled out a chair for the woman.

Now you may be wondering why his eyes weren’t focused upon his date and thoughts of book knocking. And that my friends is because the woman who walked into the restaurant just happened to be his ex-wife. Yes, his ex-wife showed up at the same restaurant as he did.

I asked him the obvious question and was told that they had never gone to this restaurant before. It wasn’t like he took her to a place that he and the ex-wife used to hang out at. Rather, it seemed that through strange coincidence or a shared love of Italian food they picked the same place to eat at.

Perhaps it is an exaggeration to call it the worst first date ever, but it certainly ranks up there as among the strangest.

I Used The Television As a Babysitter

And now Uber-dad, the one and only Jack B. confesses that today he used the television as a babysitter. Ok, it wasn’t just the television it included the Wii, an iPod Touch and time on a spare computer playing Webkinz.

Today was the kind of Monday that makes you tremble in fear, anger and frustration. It was the sort of day where you knew well in advance that life was about to sucker punch you in ways that you couldn’t begin to imagine. And what really added insult to injury was the anticipation that came as part of the package.

Being a man who loves imagery I saw myself as a sailor on a trip around the world and not an inexperienced one either. No, I am an old salt who has fought off pirates and sailed through the craziest storms that the seven seas can throw at a man. I have taken on rogue waves and overcome the sweet song of the sirens. I fear no creature, no shark, whale or sea monster.

The kraken could rise out of the sea accompanied by Poseidon and I would laugh. Yes, I’d toss my head back and let out gales of laughter. No sea king or overgrown squid is going to take me down.

But as they say pride goeth before a fall and I saw this one coming. Saw it coming, planned for it and barely managed to come out alive. Perhaps that is a victory in itself.

You see I had a number of projects dumped in my lap with over lapping deadlines. They were a combination of simple and complex but nothing I hadn’t encountered before. And until last night I was confident that there wasn’t anything that would prevent me from hitting the mark. I had taken time to strategize and prepared a clever plan of attack.

What I didn’t account for was a four tall whirling dervish. What I didn’t account for was that this dark haired beauty I call my daughter was going to decide to develop a case of pink eye. It came upon her like a sudden storm yesterday evening and it soon became clear that there was no way she was going to school. And so she stayed home from school.

Stayed home from school with eyes that bothered her just slightly and more energy than 42 nuclear power plants. We sat down and talked about what the ground rules would be for the day. I told her that dad had to work and that it was important that she give me some quiet time. Promised that I would find some time to spend with her too, but that in order to do that I would need some space.

So I hooked her up on the computer and let her play with her Webkinz. She did that for a while and then told me that she didn’t have breakfast. Super dad offered to make her scrambled eggs but she said no and asked for cereal. Bam, got it together and she decided that she didn’t like it.  Told me that I didn’t cut up her fruit properly and that I should have mommy teach me etc.

But we got through that and I hit the computer. A short time later when I was midway through a conference call I heard shrieking and barely hit mute before the stampede hit. The puppy had one of her dolls and was running full speed towards me followed by a very angry girl who wanted me to help get her doll.

Let me tell you, if you have never tried to negotiate terms under these circumstances than you haven’t lived.

Time passed, the call ended and I jumped on top of writing assignments- got midway through them and was told that it was time to make dad beautiful. I must have made a face because she glared at me, put a hand on her hip and told me that a promise is a promise.

I am not a pushover. I am not the father that lets his children speak to him in a tone that is less than respectful, but I am not stupid either. I had promised to spend some time with her and knew that if I didn’t I was going to be hammered for it.

So I convinced her to read some books to me instead and agreed that there would be a different time to make dad beautiful. It was a lot of fun and I was glad to take the time to be with her. Gradually I started feeling pressure again and resumed working.

I told her that today was her lucky day and that she would be allowed to watch more television than normal. We set up James and the Giant Peach. She loved the book so I figured that the movie would be good, thank you Netflix. What I didn’t know was that she would turn that off and flip around the channels. Just my luck, she chanced upon some soap opera.

And because I am lucky she wants to know why people close their eyes when they kiss and a host of other questions.

Got about an hour left alone with her. One more hour to try and keep her busy. Right now she is playing with her dolls. I have to give her credit for her ability to entertain herself because she is good at it. But damn if I am not tired and thankful for my basketball game tonight.

It has been great to have her here with me, really I have for the most part enjoyed it. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am ready for some quiet time…alone…by myself. Whew.

The Lonesome Kicker

I love this not just because it is funny but because it tells a story. And if there is one thing that I have learned about myself it is that at heart, I am a story teller and a collector of stories.

Were it a thousand years ago I might have been some sort of Bard or Minstrel. But it is not and I am not- but who I am today will not be who I am tomorrow.

Posted via email from thejackb’s posterous

You Could Read These

What I Meant To Say

Sometimes the echoes of our past haunt the halls of our present. The simple tasks that I am required to attend to seem to require an extra step and the routine events are not quite routine. A superstitious man would say that strange things are afoot or wonder aloud if the universe was trying to send me a message. But I am not that superstitious man, at least not today. For today I am convinced that whatever happens is nothing more than simple coincidence.

There is a logical explanation for all of these things and if not than it is nothing more than simple coincidence. I say these things because that is what I want to believe. I don’t want to be asked to try to decipher hidden messages or to engage in deep philosophical thought about the meaning of life. I want it to be handed to me in plain detail with instructions that cannot be misunderstood.

There are rules and laws that I wish to follow. Laws of math and science that I can depend upon to be consistent are my friend and my ally. I seek their embrace because I do not wish to live in a world where they do not provide the structure and foundation of my life.

Yet I find myself being forced to question whether I have chosen the right path. Things happen and my faith is shaken and I find reason to question my position. Things happen and I wonder if maybe the better path is to say that I am an agnostic. Things happen and I think that maybe I must admit that there is something going on that is beyond my sphere of understanding, that maybe there is something more.

I don’t like it. I don’t want it because to accept it is to give up a piece of control over my life and I don’t want to do that. I have little enough as it is and it is unacceptable to consider giving up any more than I already have. Of course if I could prove that there was something more that would be different. If I could apply some mathematical theorem or scientific formula I would feel far more comfortable.  Of course I could walk into a house of worship on Mainstreet USA and meet with clergy who would assure me that there is no reason not to believe.

They would have reasons and structure for me to follow. I wouldn’t be the first to question their words so they would have answers to the pressing questions of my life. They could tell me where the great love of my life Ann Stacey has disappeared to. She who climbed into a covent tree with me has moved on to places and parts unknown. Or alternatively I could consult the mighty oracle of Facebook and see if maybe she has ended up there.

It is only 20+ years since our high school days so really, how hard could it be for the mighty oracle to locate her or someone who knows what happened to her. I can’t help but wonder whatever happened to her and I suspect that she might be surprised by what has happened to me.

She told me many years ago many things about myself and suggested that I was being foolish not to listen to her advice. Hard to believe, but she was right about many things. Perhaps it is ego, but part of my interest in speaking with her is because I suspect that I was right about her too. I know things. I knew things then and I know them now.

But that places us back at the start. We have come almost full circle for the things I know aren’t based upon science or reason or fact. At least they aren’t based upon the standard ways. Yet I know without a doubt that were I to kiss dear old Ann Stacey her heart would melt and she would lose herself again in my arms and eyes.

So I wonder about this information and whether there is a point or a purpose to  it. I ask the universe why it would make this evident and whether it has intentions. Intentions of what and with whom I might add. As the poets say we started a story whose end must now wait, but for how long. Is it destined to be somewhere down the road or not at all.

See, this is why I don’t like these signs but they are unclear and I seek clarity. I want to see beyond the haze into the valley below. I want to gaze out upon a verdant land and know what lies before me. There is much to do and many reasons why it must be done.

But who knows what will happen or if I will ever have the chance to say what I meant to say.