Georgia Trip 2010 Vol.I: Defy the Slaw

Well, folks, the day have finally arrived. I am now in transit to the great state of Georgia to visit my friends and family. I am typing this from an altitude of about 10,000. You may wish to drink some water or chew gum to adjust to the pressure change while reading this.

I was a bit tense going into the flight. I love to fly. In spite of this, I am always expecting something to go wrong. Nothing tragic, mind you, I just always expect some kind of inconvenient snag. It’s those three laws of inconvenience that hover through my mind:

  • Murphy’s Law – “If anything can possibly go wrong, it will”
  • Sod’s Law – “Murphy was an optimist”
  • Cole’s Law – Cabbage mixed with mayonnaise (which I detest)

First of all, I’d like to publicly thank the kind lady who happened to find my driver’s license on the floor while we were both standing in the line for the security checkpoint. I heard someone behind me say: “Someone dropped their license”. This was also the point when I noticed that it was no longer in my hands. That could have easily brought my flight to a grinding halt. BAD LICENSE! BAD! BAD! For the record, I did NOT reprimand my license in public. Such behavior would have surely resulted in some additional “processing” at the security checkpoint. I typically have no problem allowing my warped mind to generate suspicious stares from people. Nevertheless, as much as I support the efforts of the Transportation and Security Administration, I’d rather not add to their workload if I can avoid it. Thankfully, the screening went smoothly without a hitch (and more quickly than I anticipated). I had a quiet talk with my license in the men’s room afterward. After all, a firm talking to seemed to be all that was necessary.

I arrived at my gate and waited for the boarding call. Since the screening at security checkpoint went so swiftly, I had about 90 minutes to spare. I went online to speak to my wife. I even sent a link to my wife so she could check on my flight status. Then an announcement came over the PA system: “ATTENTION AT THE GATE. THIS FLIGHT IS OVERSOLD. WE ARE LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS TO GIVE UP THEIR SEATS SO THAT NO PASSAENGERS WILL HAVE TO BE BUMPED.” GREAT! HERE WE GO! I get the security checkpoint and NOW they lower the boom on me. Fortunately, several folks quickly gave up their seats in exchange for a voucher on a future flight. Another crisis has been averted.

Once I was in my seat upon the plane. I noticed a little girl in front of me about 5 years old. Her name was Hannah. Girls named Hannah always bring joy to my heart. It was her birthday. She was thrilled to pieces when the aircraft took off. “THIS IS AWESOME!”, she exclaimed. It took a little girl to remind me that I just needed to chill and enjoy the wonders of flight. Thank you for that, Miss Hannah and Happy Birthday. I hope they aren’t serving cole slaw on this flight. I REALLY despise that stuff.


Come Out and Play

It is known that you can give two boys a stick and a rock and they will create a game within minutes. They will then spend another 45 minutes deliberating over the rules. What can I say? We males really dig games. I realize women do as well. After all, my wife could probably teach Marv Levy a thing or two about the history of the Buffalo Bills. She probably also has a better chance of throwing a completed pass but I digress. Sports and games are a huge part of American culture. Sports can bring out an esprit de corps that inspire people to shout at the top of their lungs, consume untold quantities of junk food, and spend a week recovering from the horrendous cold brought on by parading around while shirtless and painted in 12° weather. For example, I live in Western New York. As a native Georgian, I LOVE watching the Atlanta Braves (I know, who am I to take shots at the Bills?) I can walk the perimeter of the local mall wearing my Braves hat. There is a good chance that a random stranger will see me and shout: “CHIPPER JONES RULES! GO BRAVES!”

However, it should also be noted that sports are not just for the armchair athlete. You can’t go to school, church, or work without hearing somebody talk about their fantasy league. They have fantasy leagues for about any sporting event that come to one’s mind: baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, auto racing, lacrosse, disc golf, croquet, bocce, darts, jai alai, or synchronized swimming. Actually I am not sure about all of those. I don’t think there is really a disc golf fantasy league.

Then you have the world of intramural sports. Most people have jobs that include some kind of sports league. This is designed to bring out that aforementioned esprit de corps amongst you and your co-workers. You may scoff about that funny, geeky guy on the other side of the cubicle wall. So what if he has the strange laugh and the annoying habit of clearing his throat. This doesn’t change the fact the he has a left hook that brings the company’s bowling league to a certain victory. Let the jerks from Ignoramacorp® continuously drink the last of the coffee in the break room. You’ll get even at the next paintball tourney. I even had one of my colleagues do some recruiting for a league at my job. He asked: “Shane, do you like kickball?” “Say WHAT?” I politely responded. He repeated: “Do you like kickball?” I responded: “I did in third grade.” He didn’t need my snotty remarks anyway. He quite successfully recruited enough co-workers to form a team without me.

While I am glad my colleague found a way to have fun and promote camaraderie, I can’t help but wonder — Where does it go from here? We have grown folks playing kickball on a self-formed league. You can even watch a spelling bee on a sports network. The worst part is, I run across this bee on the TV and suddenly I am unable to change the channel. I am suddenly shouting at an 11 year old girl for misspelling “colloquialism”. Next thing you know, there will be a commentator giving a play by play on a marbles game: “Welcome back from the commercial break folks. Tommy Smitherson is still dominating this round. We now have Scotty Jamison at the taw line. Jamison is returning after a histing controversy in 2008. He seems a bit rattled by Smitherson’s perfor…OH MY GOODNESS! JAMISON HAS LOFTED HIS AGGIE AND TAKEN THE TIGER’S EYE! THIS PLAYING FOR KEEPS TOURNAMENT HAS COME TO A SHOCKING AND SUDDEN END, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!” Great, I had Smitherson in my fantasy league.


As a father of four, I am no stranger to the fact that rearing a child is full of challenges. There were many times during my children’s younger years that I would consult my parents on situations that seemed earth shattering at the time. Once, my son Caleb opened a brand new bottle of laundry detergent. He then poured about half of its contents into our carpet and ran his fingers through it. I relayed this story to my mother and frantically asked: “WHAT DO I DO?” My mother stifled her laughter and told me to thank my son for cleaning our carpet. I couldn’t believe I didn’t see the connection. Soap CLEANS fabric.

Sometimes even teaching simple manners to your child is a frustrating exercise. I am American by birth and Southern by the grace of God. That meant when I addressed an adult, the proper responses included the words Ma’am or Sir. Anything short of that resulted in a firm reprimand. Unfortunately, many Northern parents judged such a practice as a bit too militaristic. When my son, Tom, was about 4 years old, he was misbehaving. I called him over to correct his behavior. When he walked over to me, he said: “What?” I corrected him by saying: “SIR!” Tom then tried to correct his error by saying: “What, Sir?”

While it’s true that my wife and I would face challenges much greater than I just demonstrated; a great many of them are behind us now. The aforementioned Caleb is our youngest. He will be 17 in a few short months. My three older kids have all graduated from high school (two are in college). As parents, my wife and I have experienced a similar transition. We have graduated from being rookie parents to being seasoned professionals. This allows us to enjoy the memories we have gained from rears of child rearing. It could just be that we are older now forget the fact that our kids are part of the reason we dye our hair. Such seasoned status allows us to worry less how we handle our kids. Now we do what every other parent does in our position — critique the behavior of other people’s kids and their parents’ reactions to them.

My daughter, Brianna, and I were in a department store recently shopping for a few items. We were browsing shampoos and conditioners when we heard the voice of a screaming child. This young boy was not being harmed. He was with his father and sister in a nearby section. His father was trying to browse the display of bicycles, skateboards, and other such items. The little boy would see an item such as a bike helmet. He would then loudly shout: “DADDY, I WANT THAT!” He would then put that item down and pick another one up. “DADDY, I WANT THAT!” This little boy did this over and over again. “DADDY, I WANT THAT!” My daughter saw (and couldn’t help but hear) this child. This little boy was clearly getting on my daughter’s last nerve. After all, when you’ve not yet had any children, you’re not as thick skinned.

It was at this point that the little boy found a toy car. It was one of those toy cars big enough for a kid to sit inside it. This provided with the child with a point of focus. He no longer said: “DADDY, I WANT THAT!” He now announced: “DADDY, I WANT THAT CAR!” My daughter and I began moving to another section of the store. We walked through the cookware department. “DADDY, I WANT THAT CAR!” We walked through the bedding department. “DADDY, I WANT THAT CAR!” We even browsed through the electronics section “DADDY, I WANT THAT CAR!” This curtain climbing orator could be heard throughout the store. If the TV networks were to go under, this kid would be a shoe-in for Town Crier. “DADDY, I WANT THAT CAR!” I couldn’t help but wonder if the kid was thinking it through more than it appeared. He may have been banking on the idea that if he said “DADDY, I WANT THAT CAR!” enough times, parents throughout the store would take up a collection to shut him up. Personally, I was hoping that his father would provide this carnival barker of a child with a nice woodshed. My daughter and I would have gladly paid for the lumber.