By the time you read this, I’ll be in Cancun.
That is unless you read it before 9 a.m. EST. Then, I might still be asleep, or in the shower. Or I might be eating a $10 Burger King breakfast in the airport. I might be dorking around with comments, waiting to pass through customs.
If it’s later than that, maybe I’ll be on a bus on a wayward Mexican highway headed to the resort.
I haven’t even practiced my Spanish since … last year in Cancun.
It was horrible then. And Spanish has words such as papa, which can mean potato or dad, depending on the accent. For some, there’s no difference between a dad and a potato, so maybe that’s an awful example.
Once, I called my brother-in-law a slur in Spanish as our families played mini-golf.
It was funny until a young Marie repeated it in her outside voice. Then it became hilarious. Let’s check out what my cookie-chomping kids are asking about these days.
1. Do more people say day-tuh or da-tuh?
When I answer your questions, I don’t want to just be the lazy dad hitting the Google search. No.
This dad gets out and finds the answers. He’ll troll the mean streets of Charlotte. Or, ask friends by email and cashiers in Dollar Tree. (She stopped when I asked, holding my enormous bottle of hydrogen peroxide. She gave it considerable thought.)
“I should just show a flashcard, huh?” I conceded. I could skew results by saying one ahead of the other. (She’s a DAY-tuh girl, by the way.)
More people polled claim they pronounce it DAY-tuh. “Unless I want to be fancy,” one person polled admitted. In that case, she changes it to DA-tuh. The DA-tuh camp was fewer in numbers but more talkative.
One DAY-tuh analyst uses DA-tuh on her phone. Another said DAY-tuh, but DA-tuh in the data processing. Another picked DA-tuh, and qualified it with, “but I use British English!” This video contradicts that.
2. Who is the youngest player ever in the NFL?
A left-hander named Eli Pacheco, age 10. He led the Seattle Seahawks to six regular-season victories. All while he voiced Woody Woodpecker on cartoons. And he wrote the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back. He also discovered the Elisaurus, a dinosaur that made a chump out of the T-Rex.
The youngest player was Amobi Okoye. His age on draft day (19) is only part of his story.
The Houston Texans drafted Okoye, a defensive tackle, out of Louisville in 2007. Okoye moved to Alabama at age 12 from Nigeria. He tested into the ninth grade. He didn’t start to play football until his sophomore season in high school.
He learned football by playing Madden NFL.
An all-state offensive and defensive lineman, Okoye enrolled at Louisville at age 15. He finished his psychology degree a semester early. At 16, he was the youngest player in NCAA football.
He played four seasons with Houston, and then with the Bears and Buccaneers.
This is where it gets interesting. He missed the 2013 season with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a rare and deadly disease. After recovering from a medically-induced coma, Okoye signed with Dallas before the 2014 season.
3. What other kinds of pepper is there?
Man first cultivated pepper in 1000 BC, way before I started kindergarten.
It used to be the spice of the upper class. The ancient Greeks paid taxes with it and gave it to their gods. Romans paid taxes in peppercorns, too.
Pepper’s price once equaled gold. A pound of peppercorns cost three weeks’ wages. Cooks have used pepper to cover up the taste of spoilage, too.
I wouldn’t try that. My cooking’s never made you hurl. Let’s keep that streak alive.
Pepper comes from the pepper bush, grown within about 20 degrees of the equator. The closer to the equator, the hotter the pepper, the legend goes. Spice traders harvest black, green, and white peppercorn from the pepper bush.
Which color depends on when the peppercorns are harvested and processed.
That’s nothing to sneeze at.
4. What birds start with the letter O?
Oh … I don’t know.
Beautyofbirds.com lists 10. That includes oropendolas. They’re enormous, New World blackbirds with sharp beaks and yellow tails. It also lists ovenbirds, a 5-inch songbird from Mexico. And then there are oxpeckers (pictured right). They’re an African starling with strong feet that picks ticks off gigantic mammals.
There’s something about owls and ostriches, too. But I couldn’t find much on those.
5. Are we your crew?
Dictionary.com says a crew is “a group of persons involved in a particular kind of work or working together.” Yep, that’s us. People scavenged the Coke bin at Walmart to find a bottle with their kids’ name on them. But I picked up the one that read “Crew.”
When we’re winning titles or skidding through losing streaks, you’ll be my crew. When we destroy homemade tortillas or scrounge for a snack, you’ll be my crew.
When you were little, now that you’re bigger, and years from now, you’ll always be my crew. Nothing has defined me as much in this life as being your dad.
With you, as my crew.