Go Ask Daddy About Living Arrangements, Crappy Classes and the Implications of Leap Day Birthdays


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Eli Pacheco

I’ve documented much of the less-than-stellar moments that pocked my college days.

GAD GRAPHICKnow what, though? It wasn’t all bad. Sure, I spent lots of time waiting for closing time at the campus Pizza Hut for free personal pan pizzas while I whiled away deadlines at the student newspaper. I slept more hours on Cone Center couches than attended labs.

And I missed out on the homecoming court because I was academically ineligible.

Academically ineligible! Not to run up and down the basketball court, but to stand on it, during halftime. There were also good moments in my nearly six years of collegiate life, not counting the time I got two Twixes out of a vending machine for 50 cents.

I LIKE IT! | An English professor read one of my writings out loud. A pregnant pause later, I thought he might dissect as he’d done with others. He looked like a miniature Vince Lombardi. He proclaimed, “I LIKE it!” before slapping the paper back on my desk.

FINALLY, AN A | In a non-English class! Art History. The prof was kinda dreamy.

Every week, I choose five questions at random from about 400 questions my daughters ask in passing or on a mission.

THANKS, COACH | I knew all my hard work and long hours at the student newspaper was worth it the day I saw men’s basketball coach Jeff Mullins, himself a player legend, tuck a copy of the University Times under his arm and head to the men’s room.

Onward, to the questions my girls asked. Every week, I choose five at random from about 400 questions they’ve asked in passing or on a mission. Hope you dig this batch.

1. Did you live on campus?

No, and I had a pretty cool roommate anyway – my dad.

UNC Charlotte wasn’t a burgeoning football school back then. Kids stayed in the dorm on basketball game day if an ACC game showed on TV. Why go out in the cold? As a commuter school, it was full of guys like me, who drove onto campus rather than live there.

I parked my Toyota pickup in the lot of a Catholic church across the street, and biked to class. I did this to avoid the $110 parking fee. The church was cool to let me. Also, the priest walked with me one day after class when I had stuff about life I tried to figure out.

I’ll always appreciate that.

2. What is this?

A taxidermy wildebeest freaked out your oldest sister once on a daddy/daughter date.

That, my love, is a wildebeest toy (featured in the lead photo, under Stormtrooper surveillance until futher notice.)

It’s stamped on his belly. A taxidermy wildebeest freaked out your oldest sister on a daddy/daughter date. We visited the Museum of York County. The display caught the slowest wildebeest at that ‘oh shit!’ moment a hungry cheetah landed on his back.

Check these cool facts about wildebeests:

  • Wildebeests, also known as gnus, like to moan and snort.
  • Male wildebeest are considered “clowns of the savanna” because of their odd behavior during mating season.
  • They can weigh as much as 550 pounds.

All these remind me of some dudes I knew in school.

3. Why do we have to learn this math if we’ll never really use it?

Math is like the rocket boosters on the sides of a space shuttle. There to help it start, but ultimately destined to drop into the Atlantic. Or, it’s like the salsa set for reduction in boiling rice. It’s gone by the time you eat, but the rice sure is tasty.

Even on the crummiest worksheet in the crummiest math in the crummiest math class, that annoying practice of working problems that include the absolute maximum and the factor of a polynomial and the Law of Cosines serves a purpose: Problem-solving.

When you work through stuff like the Permutation Formula and an undefined slope, it’s not that you will apply those principles later in life when you have to seed your lawn or build a dog house.

It’s just that in order to become a clergyman or a bartender or an animal breeder, you kind of have to pass math.

I’ve used it a little, to figure yards after catch or on-base percentage or games back.

Math’s that muscle you have to exercise a little or it’ll shrivel up on you.

Math’s that muscle you have to exercise a little or it’ll shrivel up on you. It’s not the most crucial muscle, but it’s connected to important ones, so you have to keep it all warmed up and moving.

4. If there are no defenders on that half of the field, is it still offside?

The offside rule, one of only 17 in the world of soccer, remains one tougher to explain than binomial coefficients or Gauss-Jordan elimination.

I couldn’t find a single explanation that described a situation when no defenders remained on the opposing attack. I did, however find this gem:

5. What if your birthday is on Feb. 29?

Then you’re definitely offside.

Feb. 29 comes around only once every four years. It’s added to the calendar in an attempt to fix a flaw between the Gregorian Calendar and, well, pretty much the universe.

A pissing match between Caesar Augustus and Julius Caesar resulted in February being stripped down to 28 days. The Romans used to employ a 355-day year with a leap month of 22 days tossed in every two years. That’d be annoying as hell.

When Julius Caesar became emperor, he called astronomer Sosigenes to invent a solution. Sosi introduced the leap year. Those born Feb. 29 celebrate either Feb. 28 or March 1 – I suspect on the date that falls on a weekend when possible. They’re called yearlings.

People do crazy shit on this day. Women propose to men. Some folk count their birthdays only on leap years. That’d make me 10. Which makes all kinds of sense now.

I should know. I was in college for two leap years.

How many can say that?

leap quote

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23 thoughts on “Go Ask Daddy About Living Arrangements, Crappy Classes and the Implications of Leap Day Birthdays”

  1. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked that question as a former math teacher from her students, I’d be rich! But better yet, I wish I had your response back then, because you nailed it perfectly!! 😉

  2. My niece turns four on Monday. Or, sixteen, if you want to count actual years she has been around on this planet. Her mom has always celebrated the day on the 28th, better early than late!

    My brother just missed being born on 2/29, and my mother had said if it had happened his birthday would have been celebrated on 3/1 on non-leap years since he was technically born the day after 2/28 no matter what.

    Kinda grinchy, if you ask me.

    1. There should be some way to give kids born Feb. 29 more cake or something. There’s a technical way to handle when to celebrate based on years on the planet, but I say toss a party sooner than later. No time or room for grinchiness, I say.

  3. Ahhh, math. I can remember being told that we *HAD* to learn how to do long division in our heads because, and I quote, “who’s going to carry around a calculator with them 24/7?”

    I’ve lost the skill of doing long division in my head, but I’m not torn up about it. I’ll keep the handy-dandy smart phone around for that kind of math.

  4. Math scared me in school and today’s ways of teaching math I just run away from altogether.
    I can’t math… 😦

    Thanks for the laugh this Friday.

    1. The kids have some wacky stuff going on in math class, which is the final shove off the cliff when you think about ways I could actually help beyond looking shit up online.

      Glad you could grab a laugh out of here, Tiff.

  5. Great freaking post, CD!! Our fav part ~ “Some folk count their birthdays only on leap years. That’d make me 10. Which makes all kinds of sense now.” That would make a great line in a book or movie!! lmao ~ I’d like to say I get the whole concept of leap year. But I still can’t figure it out. So I’m going to go share this great post and Inion’s going to try to break it down for me. lol 😉

    1. Thanks – and thanks for sharing it. I feel like I misled when I talked about me being 10 – I got a happy birthday text today! (Which reminds me I’m the shit brother who forgot to wish his sister happy birthday yesterday.) Thanks so much for your kind words here and on Facebook. I’m grateful.

  6. “What is this?” is utter a dozen times a day around here. It could be about a Lego creation, a YouTube video or a wet spot on the floor. The wildebeest comparison to some college dude was hilarious! And like Janine said, as a math teacher I wish I had that response every time that question was asked. I think I’ll print it off and read it verbatim whenever it’s asked from now on.

  7. How about doing the same justice for the “Why do I have to learn about literature?” like you did for math? English teachers and librarians will be forever pleased.

  8. Whoa, what a GO ASK DADDY!

    Wildebeest is one of South African’s UGLY BIG FIVE 😉 Along with warthogs and hyenas. I am sure you had classmates that fall into that category, too.

    Math is not necessary to become a great problem solver: I am living proof of it!!!

    I like that the church not only provided free parking all through two leap years but also guidance when you needed it.

    1. Thanks Tamara! Wildebeest have earned the tile. That’s an ugly crew. I did know some dudes in college …

      Maybe we succeed in spite of math? I knew enough to do some basic stuff around the yard.

      That priest was definitely of the people there. They had things for college students. I think it’s since been torn down.

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