May 2002

First, a little gift for you. I’ve cleared a computational logjam at home and finally put up the pictures of Evan’s birthday paintball extravaganza AND just for the heck of it, some pix of the Broken Arrow Rooster Day Parade, complete with photos of Evan and his illustrious French Horn. Check them both out.

But on to the strange events of yesterday. It was a beautiful weekend; perfect weather, no organized events to be at except Erin’s piano recital. Both kids were invited for sleepovers elsewhere so Melissa and I found ourselves alone on Friday night. Woo Hoo! We took off for Mayfest and spent hours listening to good music and looking at art for sale. We were finally driven home by the unseasonably cool weather since yours truly hadn’t made use of his higher education to check the thermometer and had gone in shorts. I was eager to hear “Billy Joe Winghead” just on the basis of the cool name but alas, I was freezing.

As to the piano recital, well Erin performed admirably if I may say so. She usually does so we don’t get nervous by these things any more. So, we decided to break the piñata.

What? (I can imagine you asking)

Well, here’s where it gets a little complicated. Evan came home a couple of weeks ago saying that his Spanish class was having an end-of-year party and he signed up to bring a pinata – full of goodies. Well, Melissa immediately had a talk with him about that, instructing him to, in the future, sign up to bring chips, soda, ice or something simpler. So, a frantic trip was made to obtain a cardboard burro and fill him with cheap candy. The deed was done and he was dutifully delivered.

And nothing happened.

When we asked Evan about it, he said “Well, we didn’t break the piñata.” Why? He didn’t know. What happened to it? It was still sitting there in the Spanish classroom. So, we had gone to the trouble for nothing; therefore, Melissa went up to the school and demanded the piñata back. She was certainly polite about it but firm nonetheless.

Now what?

Well, nothing would do for the kids but that we should hang it from the ceiling and break it in the time honored fashion. That’s kind of hard since we have very tall cathedral-style ceilings but I have the reputation as the man who can be trusted to handle situations like this so I went to fetch the ladder and a bit of rope. My humorous hanging of the piñata via a hangman’s noose was unappreciated.

(Interesting side note:  there are many people in the world who will tell you that it is illegal to tie a hangman’s noose in a piece of rope.  I’m not sure why there are so many people that are worried about this issue but there is no shortage of people who will make sure you know about it.  I’ve always thought that was a ridiculous assertion but then there are humor books published that are full of weird laws; it’s illegal to set fire to a mule on Sunday, for example.  Maybe it’s true.)

So there it was, swinging at the end of the rope. The kids took turns whacking it with the broom until he finally spilled his guts, so to speak. Then the true motivation came out: they both wanted the piñata fragments for their own. Arguments ensued.

Perhaps you remember the story of how King Solomon arbitrated such a disagreement over a baby? He ordered a sword brought out to split the baby in half until the real mother pleaded for it to be saved. Well, Melissa went for the butcher knife. But this time, no protest was raised; she proceeded to saw the cardboard burro in half and each was presented to eagerly awaiting hands. They are now wall-hangings.


GAG ALERT! Prepare for shameless bragging!

The middle school awards were yesterday. Evan’s total take: 5.

I forget the actual phrasing of the award titles but they were outstanding band student, ditto spanish student, honor roll, one other I can’t remember, and (a drum roll please…) Outstanding Student.

That last one is significant in that it consisted of an engraved plaque rather than the usual certificate. If we go by the old adage that “size matters”, then he took the big one. YES!

Yeah, I know….we’re all winners, yada, yada, yada. Tell it to someone whose child didn’t just win a handfull of awards. And forgive the shameless pride.

Mud is one of those things that most people don’t have any appreciation for. But most people (particularly kids) can enjoy it a great deal; one need only jump into the mudhole and roll around in it to begin to get an appreciation for it. It gets pretty fun after that. So it is with the Broken Arrow Rooster Day Parade.

This year, rain was forecast so we almost had to deal with the parade as well as roll around in the mud but the rain mercifully held off for the entire day Saturday so all several hundred of us could sit and watch our little darlings marching in the various bands. This year, as in all years, there were about as many people in the parade as watching the parade. I took lots of pictures because

  1. Evan was marching in the sixth-grade band
  2. I had 64 Mb in my camera and when film is not an issue, one can be profligate
  3. Lots of the parade entries were really amusing

Unfortunately, there is no web site yet but there will be someday. I’m in one of those “for want of a nail, a shoe was lost” situations due to the simple fact that I need to install yet another ethernet card in my PC. It won’t fit due to a strange configuration of connectors. And so I can’t use my magical web-site building program. Story of my life. Someday though. Unless of course, someone out there has a copy of FrontPage or DreamWeaver they’d like to send me…

Until then, just let me say that the event was as entertaining as always and this time, I’m not being sarcastic. I always enjoy this sort of thing; there’s no pretense anywhere and the crowds are minimal. Everyone is there to see a family member enjoy the spotlight, so to speak, or in this case, enjoy the centerline of the street. There is no such thing as a bad mood. This is the sort of event in which people bring their lawn chairs and set them up and then offer them to elderly people parked next to them who forgot theirs.

Let’s do some math: there are four middle schools with three bands each, two intermediate schools with two bands each and one high school with a band the size of Hope, Arkansas. That’s 15 total marching bands one of which stretched for two blocks and we haven’t even gotten to Shriners and their little cars yet.

When you add in the cheerleading squads for the aforementioned schools and sprinkle in a few floats and add in some political candidates, beauty pageant winners, and a local television meteorologist, that adds up to an entire morning of cheap entertainment. Bluebell ice-cream had a huge ice-cream truck in the parade and there were lots of BlueBell employees who would reach up into the truck, grab handfulls of ice-cream bars and hand them out to the kids in the crowd. Hey! Entertainment and snacks! I’ll bet you won’t find that at the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade! As an added plus, I got some nice photos of some of the guys in our scout troop marching along with one of the Wal-Mart floats so those photos ought to generate some money when they pay me not to publish them on my web-site!

We parked in front of a small plant nursery and so in addition to the parade, we got to admire all the pretty flowers. In return for parking in front of their business for hours, we went in and bought some strawberry plants to put in our garden. The kids are excited. Why, I don’t know; I’ve never been excited about gardening but they are writing a new story for our lives apparently, and I’m the Dad so I have to help make it happen. “Make it happen” is a business-world jargon for “do the hard work and pay for it.” Hey, they’re happy so I’m happy.

Finally, the rain started and so the plants have had a good watering and this morning, those tomato plants look visibly larger.

Mother’s Day went pretty well also except for a strange event in which the dogs apparently became possessed by the devil and strewed garbage throughout the house while we were sleeping. They’ve never touched the trash before but on Saturday night, they decided to have a party. Their names “Dixie” and “Benji” sound so similar than when under pressure to fire a volley of profanity at them, I get their names mixed up. I think I’ll have to re-christen them “Big Red” and “Pesky”. But nothing satisfies a mother better than the sight of the rest of the family sweating at hard labor before her and so we all pitched in to clean up the house (which was pretty cluttered even before the dogs distributed the trash all over it.) We then took her shopping and went to dinner.

Another “good time was had by all” weekend.

Boy! What a weekend! If you are interested in hearing about a 12-year-old’s most perfect weekend, read on. If you have something against redneck sports like paintball, well you’re out of luck big-time. Paintball, birthday cake, and eternal salvation – that’s our weekend. Sound eclectic? Well, Saturday was Evan’s birthday party and Sunday was the confirmation ceremony for sixth graders at church.

Mel is exhausted. Nobody ever said parenting was easy I guess.

There’s nothing Evan likes more than to take to the woods with a paintball gun and try to pop his buddies on the backside with a hard dollop of paint. And, to be honest, that’s the best thing for some of these kids. Boys at that age are all bravado and need to be put in their places. When Evan is the last man out of the woods and the others come out rubbing welts, the pecking order is (temporarily at least) re-shuffled.

We headed to paintball land again Saturday with a half-dozen carefully picked young lads. The place has expanded this year and was crawling with paintballers from all over. The lady in the former-mobile-home office was raking money in with a shovel as fast as she could manage it. Our guys were placed with a group and they played until they were exhausted. There seemed to be a rather large contingent of southern Baptists (to judge from the markings on the busses in the parking lot) which seems odd to me. That sort of puts “turning the other cheek” in a different light doesn’t it?

The place has expanded but it is still its old rustic trailer-park type of self. That’s probably why it’s so cheap to spend the entire day there having fun. I stayed back in the “picnic area” with some other families to wait out the skirmishes. One lady caught my interest in that she appeared to be wearing those fake “Billy Bob Teeth” that you can find in convenience stores everywhere (around here anyway). At least I thought she was wearing fake billybob teeth but this is Oklahoma and you can never be sure. After awhile, and after I saw her eat several burritoes, I concluded that they were in fact real teeth; she must have been the model for “Billy Bob Teeth”. *shudder* I am reminded of a line from a gothic horror story: “I watched in fascinated horror…” I didn’t take pictures though – I do have my standards.

As expected, the event was a success with a van-load of exhausted boys at the end of it. I brought them home, Melissa plied them with hamburgers and birthday cake and sent them home, rubbing their injuries.

Sunday was the day of the Methodist confirmation ceremony. When I was younger and went through it (and at the other churches I’ve been a member of), they didn’t make such a big deal out of it. They just announced their names and had them stand during the morning service but here, they had a special ceremony during the evening and put the word out to invite extended family and dress up. The dressing up met with much dismay on the part of the confirmands who had never worn ties before and were all hoping to never have to do so. But we insisted and trussed up Evan in a tie accordingly. He didn’t look so bad either.

They all behaved pretty well considering the length of the minister’s homily. One might have thought that he would have shortened it to match up with the attention spans of the target audience but I guess he was giving them their first taste of the real world. They survived it. They all also managed to avoid running around like madmen in the gym afterward during the refreshments. That’s probably due to the ties cutting off circulation to their brains. We cut the refreshments short and took the whole extended family (or at least those of the extended family who lived close by) and headed for a restaurant for a late dinner. There, both Evan and Erin became hyperactive due to the fact that we let them stay up past their bedtimes. Evan had had two major events come and go during the weekend that were all about him and he finally succumbed to the effect of it all and became uncontrollably annoying and so we went home and tossed them each into a shower and from there, to the bed.

As much as the minister would like to hope that all those sixth graders are now firmly established in the way that leads to life eternal, I’m in serious doubt as to whether many of them had much notion of what he was talking about. They were too busy giggling at the ladies who were trying to light the candles that kept going out. It was a nice touch to light a candle at the reading of each kid’s name but they neglected to anticipate the effect that air conditioning can have on a candle. Vents can be your friend or your enemy depending on what sort of atmosphere you want to create. Anyway, there was much giggling. Perhaps that’s why next year, the Methodist church is moving the confirmation process up to seventh grade.

But a good time was had by all. Pictures? Maybe later.