March 2001

We had some interesting conversations last week. Perhaps someone out there could translate this one for me.

Erin: “Dad what does Jewish mean?”

Me: …mumbled stuff that I vaguely remember from Sunday School…

Erin: “How do you become Jewish?”

Me: Your Dad has to be Jewish.

Erin: What if you just wanted to join?

Me: I don’t know. I don’t think you can. Or maybe you can go to classes.

Erin: …many more question…about 20 more questions.

And then suddenly:


Me: What?

Now, there’s something I could answer but I never could figure out what that had to do with being Jewish. She never stopped talking long enough to let me go back and find out. The stream of consciousness continued on from there.

Erin: Sing the Hallelujah chorus for me!


Erin: No, all of it.

Me: I don’t know all of it.

Erin: Mom does.

Me: Get mom to sing it for you.

Erin: Do you know who wrote it? George Frederich Handel. He was born somewhere; I don’t know where but lived in France. He played the Harpsichord and wrote lots of music. Did you know that?

Me: No.

Erin: I guess you missed music class that day.

Music class for me was never more than singing the national anthem daily before class started.

Life is interesting.

That’s right; Erin turned eight years old yesterday and couldn’t be happier about it. Her manners need a little work though because, you see, she seemed to think she owned the world yesterday. Something in her behavior makes me think that, if she ever runs for public office, you probably shouldn’t vote for her and give her too much power. (I would vote for her of course because I think it would be cool to have my own personal secret-service agent around the house.)

The part of Sabre I worked for was sold off to EDS this week so I was a bit pre-occupied. I could perhaps be forgiven then for allowing certain manners to go unchecked. While eating pizza at the local cardboard-pizza emporium, Erin was observed with the plate up to her face, leisurely licking the plate – back and forth – slowly. She was not observed by me though. I was, like her, busy watching the cartoon network on the gigantic TV. Mel swooped across the room and snatched the offending plate from the offending tongue and then turned her wrath on me. What did I do? Nothing and that was the point.

We had several bad-manner moments like that. The high point though was the birthday party itself which was held at the local YMCA indoor pool and was a big hit. We had in mind a small affair with maybe 4 girls. What transpired was a huge soiree with about 10 girls. Which seemed more like 20. But at a huge place like that, there’s room for all and then some. Melissa made a cool cake in the shape of a mermaid which was impressive to all. The favorite gift was a huge inflateable log which was very nearly impossible to climb on top of in the water and was certainly impossible to stay on top of for very long. They made sure and kept it near the edge of the pool so that every few moments, somebody was falling off and very nearly breaking their nose on the edge of the pool. We were constantly catching our breath hoping that nobody would crack their skulls before their moms got back. The lifeguard said nothing – apparently his opinion was: “If they ain’t drownin’, I ain’t movin'”.

Well, I’ll bet you were just itching to find out how our first campout with the Boy Scouts went! Or you may be thinking “Oh, jeez, another email from that bozo!” I am cursed with just a touch of arrogance, so I’ll assume the former and continue with my story.

I must say at the beginning that this was the ultimate in political incorrectness: boys only and guns were involved. This was a campout in which boys were taught the proper use of firearms by actual experience. If you have a problem with teaching boys to shoot, well sorry – I don’t want to hear about it. We all had a blast – so to speak.

It was cold. The entire time. The weatherman lied to us. Most seemed to take it in stride but since I’m so out of shape, I suffered from the repeated hike/refrigerate cycles. I may write a book on the charley horse later.

Evan was in for a rude awakening: cooking for himself. He asked “what’s for dinner?”. The scoutmaster asked: “I don’t know, what are you cooking?” Evan got that uncertain look about him. He had heard this before from his mother but she had always been kidding and this man was not kidding. Fortunately, the older boys had done all the planning for the younger ones and took over from there and acted a tutors. They still had to cook and clean for themselves though. I saw Evan eat things that he would have turned up his nose at before. You could have heard the following: “Evan, what are you eating?” Answer: “A piece of yellow squash and chicken.” Melissa refused to believe it. Part of the attraction was that all this involved putting things in the campfire.

Speaking of rude awakenings, Evan’s tent-mate apparently had a nightmare and woke a lot of us up. He then decided that even though there was no monster involved, it was still in fact, an emergency and required a visit to the latrine. In the pitch darkness and the cold. They aren’t allowed to do anything without a buddy so Evan’s role increased in importance. Evan couldn’t find his flashlight – or the toilet paper. But, to his credit, the job was done and he had very little to say the next morning. I expected some complaints but there were none. I’m not sure how the details worked out but He did wake me up to borrow a flashlight and that was all. It seems the seeds of self-reliance have been planted.

The adults in this troop are very nearly professional campers so we ate pretty well. I was impressed by their ability to produce biscuits, cobblers, and all manner of things on a wood fire. I gained two pounds. I left feeling fine; yesterday after coming home, I wound up sitting in a rocking chair with a comforter around me like an old man, rocking and watching things on TV that I would never watch normally. It was too taxing to even push buttons on the remote control. I would think “Hey, this two hour show on Buffaloes isn’t so bad.”

This was the first of many campouts. Fortunately, I won’t have to attend all of them. I had signed up to serve as mentor for some of the merit badges but I chose all of the more scientifically oriented one of them like “aviation” and such. I leave the hard-core outdoor skills to the established masters.

I could say more but I’m starting to get tired again.

Well, I forgot to send everyone a greeting from the latest pseudo-holiday. It’s been a busy week what with the corporate takeovers and all.

I greeted St Patrick’s Day as I usually greet any Saturday: with a trip to the hardware store. Imagine my surprise when I go in to find two guys in there in kilts. One fighting with a bagpipe, the other standing by a drum. I knew then that the trip was going to get scary.

Word to the wise: when a bagpipe is playing, you can’t think – much less remember what size bolts you needed to hang that light fixture. Good thing I had a list. Furthermore, what did bagpipes and hardware have in common? A full week later, I’m still wrestling with that one. As far as I can tell, they were *losing* customers rather than retaining them. I, for one, got out of there ASAP.

And that brings us to the biggest question of all. Why, on an Irish-themed holiday, did they choose to drag in a Scottish-themed music (Ha!) group? My guess is that most Oklahomans that are into hardware don’t make much of a distinction between the two. It’s “Americans” and “Foreigners” to most people around here.

As I wandered the aisles, walking past things like 1/2 inch nipples and mill bastard files I wondered: “How do you explain that sort of thing on your VISA bill?” The world may never know.

And as I look out on the vast, glorious tapestry of human life, I think to myself “Boy! There’s a lot of fat, ugly people around here!”

I need to lose weight.

There’s a Boy Scout campout this weekend – Evan’s first. Should be interesting.

Well, this year’s talent show at Indian Springs Elementary is now history and in typical fashion, was about as much “show” as “talent”. I don’t mean my children, of course – they displayed talent that was far and away better than any others’. Not that I’m biased.

I video-taped the whole thing by request of the PTA so I guess now I’ll have to make a copy for the PTA which implies that I’ll have to watch it again – the whole two hours. I’ll stock up on aspirin first. They plan to show it during the next fundraiser which will be a pizza party at the local pizza joint. They have a big-screen TV there which normally shows the Cartoon Network constantly. I can only imagine what our video will do for their business. If I see one more kid lip-syncing (poorly) to Britney Spears I don’t know what I’ll do.

I enjoy video-taping things like that because I get the best seat in the house. Of course, about halfway through the thing, I realized that I was the official audio-visual geek and suddenly I saw it in a new light. But being the geek these days isn’t so bad. At least two people stopped by and grumbled about their cameras messing up or not understanding how to work them well enough to get good videos and if mine looked good could they get a copy? Hmmm… possible money maker there. I almost had one guy ready to give me his (technically superior) camera in exchange for a decent video. (Would I really do that? For a cool tech-toy, I’d do it in a heartbeat.)

I have to hand it to the kid who played the violin. She didn’t play it well, but she at least played it which has always impressed me. She had dogs howling all over that end of town but “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” was at least recognizable so for a second grader, that’s not too bad. I’ve always been amazed at the variety of sounds that a violin will make. Unfortunately, this little girl showed the possible down side to this.

The girl who did some clogging was most impressive. I don’t like clogging that much but you can always see when somebody is doing it right or not and she had us all clapping. Reminded me of something I heard Jack Handy say once: “Isn’t a lot of what we call tap-dancing really just nerves?”

My favorite was a boy who did a magic show. He put his big sister in a box and shoved lots of swords through the box. Now who wouldn’t want to do something like that? They were a big hit.

We were also graced with a version of Stupid Pet Tricks. This little dog got up on stage and could sit and stand up but other than that, she pretty much just failed to pee on the stage or bark at everyone. Around my house that would be considered true talent (for the dog that is) but on stage it seemed somewhat lacking. My dog of course would never display such self-control; it would be somehow degrading to her dignity to give up her personality like that to another. That’s why she lives outside. I suppose it might be possible to arrange a show around the dog’s particular talents. 

“OK Dixie … go sniff crotches!”

“Now… eat crumbs off the floor!”

Melissa, as PTA prez was not in charge but everyone thought she was. As such, she spent most of the time out of sight helping deal with various problems and didn’t get to see about half of the whole thing so I guess the video will be a good thing for her. Of course, when each person’s little darling takes the stage, all the other no-talent hacks are forgotten and we only see our little stars. We don’t hear the mistakes or see any faults. We hold our breath and think about how great they are to be up there doing what they’re doing. I guess that’s why we’re there.