Go Ask (Someone Else’s) Daddy About Childhood Aspirations, Returns from Blog Vacations and How to Make a Bit of Sense of the Wacked-out Universe We Live in


The kids get a break this week.

GAD GRAPHICCourtney of Baking in my Bathing Suit suggested I extend an invitation to the grown-up world for Go Ask Daddy. A handful of readers submitted questions, so there was enough to set the girls’ questions back on the shelf for today.

Mimi of Messy Mimi’s Meanderings asked me to tell the story of when I broke big-league news at a small-town paper.

I covered racing for the Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record. It was my second job out of college. A racing writer at a tiny paper doesn’t make enough to pay country club dues. Hell, it barely pays enough to buy a club sandwich. In the country.

I waited tables at a greasy sandwich shack called Ham’s.

Two or three NASCAR teams’ headquarters were nearby, and the fellas liked to come in for a Steam Engine sandwich and sweet tea for lunch. The guys from Bill Elliott’s shop popped in late in the lunch shift one afternoon.

“Late lunch today,” I said. “We’ve been working all morning trying to get this special seat ready for Bill to take to Talladega!” one good old boy said. Bill Elliott had missed a few weeks of racing with a broken femur. They’d expected him to miss several more races.

In the restaurant biz, the only thing tougher than getting barbecue sauce stains out of your apron: convincing your boss (and co-workers) to let you out early without doing your side work.

He did, and they did. In the era before the Internet, we couldn’t break the story online. The only way to get credit – steal it, really, from Tom Higgins and the Charlotte Observer juggernaut – would be to send the story to the Associated Press.

They’d have to credit not me, but the Hickory Daily Record for the report.

That was good enough.

The Hickory Daily Record reports that Bill Elliott will race at Talladega on Sunday, thanks for a specially crafted safety seat to protect his fractured femur …

Here’s what y’all asked:

From Court, of Baking in my Bathing Suit:

1. When you were 5 what did you want to be when you grew up? (Other than a stormtrooper)

and You’re spot on about the stormtrooper!

As a kindergartener, I thought I’d be a cartoonist. I loved to draw Woody Woodpecker, choosing the second-tier character over anything Disney spit out. I drew lots of animal characters, all funny. I drew a cartoon strip once called Yodon and PeePee.

No copies exist of this strip. It came years before I ever fantasized about becoming an NFL quarterback or married to Blair from The Facts of Life.

Honestly, I probably wanted to be Woody Woodpecker. But that’s for another post.

2. If money was no object, what would the one place you’d like to see the most? Who would you take with you?

I’d love to go to Madrid. I’d want to take a train across Spain, visiting soccer clubs and sampling food and discussing the fine points of blogging and grilled cheese con las mujeres. Or Maybe New York City. I’d wear my Rockies cap.

Stateside, maybe I’d go to the Underground Gardens in Fresno (and get a tri tip sandwich, too). Or even San Francisco, to watch a baseball game and wear my Rockies cap. I might get bludgeoned, but I might also make it out for a sourdough burger.

I’d bring my girls, of course. Or Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights if the girls are too busy. (Sorry, coach.)

From Joey, of Big Teeth Clouds:

3. Do you have any advice for returning to the blog world after a long break?

Yes. Just write. Don’t waste time explaining why, or where you were, or don’t you dare apologize, even if you’ve told a racing breaking news story and it reads kinda boring. No, step right in and write and use that energy you’ve kept under wraps.

Or, write a guest post on my blog. Get back in the game right here. We’ll bring you back in style. That first step is a mean one, but you have to put your shoulder into it, write back with a vengeance like you’re a Death Star that won’t actually get blown apart.

From Beth of I Didn’t have My Glasses On …

4. Why does the bottle/can return always jam every time I am there trying to return?

It doesn’t, really. It just feels like it does. Like when you say “every time I look at the clock, it’s 11:11!” No, it isn’t. You just remember when you look and it is 11:11. You don’t remember when you look and it’s 9:25, 12:15, or 1:20.

Like, it feels like they always run out of supreme pizza when I get to the buffet at CiCi’s. Or the cop in front of the elementary school near my house – you know, the bald dude – always stops my car to let traffic out.

For that matter, if there’s a long line and I’m in it, the people who don’t want to be bothered to walk around the end of the line always pick the spot right in front of me to break through. Of course, that doesn’t happen all the time either, but you get the point.

We feel as if the world is out to get us sometimes, and although I’m convinced the universe does have a sick sense of humor – look at what it did to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indians at about this time last year – I don’t think it has it out for us.

I think we sometimes turn the odds against us, like when we complain that every time we drive on Memorial Day weekend, we get pulled over. It must be the universe (or at least police force) conspiring, right?

Maybe it’s because we were speeding or because we jam the cans in wrong.

Anyway, I want you to think about the times things went right. When the cans did what you wanted them to, or maybe even the kids. Or the time at the restaurant you got to hold one of your boss’ kids while he fell asleep on your shoulder before you had kids.

Because that’s the moment you really knew you wanted to become a dad. Tangibly.

I don’t believe in predetermination but I wonder if maybe the universe does mess with your can. Wait, not that can. I wonder if the universe makes my car slow to second gear or causes the Nuggets to miss the playoffs because something bigger is at play.

Because jammed cans and chatty NASCAR mechanics lead to other things, you know?

universe quote




  1. Where are you people returning bottles and cans at? Down here, we haven’t been able to return bottles since the 70’s and cans have to be smashed and bagged and you are paid by the pound.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I think we need a national heat map to document this, Barbara!

  2. stomperdad says:

    As always, you’re spot on. Excellent questions and even better responses. The Universe isn’t out to get us. It just feels like it’s conspiring against us sometimes. Woody Woody Pecker was always a favorite of mine. I called him Woody Pecker when I was 5. My parents just LOVED that. Then my father in law would call me Wood Pecker as a nickname.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, brother. It was an interesting exercise. I’ve come to appreciate the Universe, in all her unpredictability and also good fortune she tends to toss me in scraps.

      I think sometimes the Universe wants to see if it can make me toughen up a bit, or slow down. Even Woody Woodpecker.

      Fathers in law must do things like that. I’m not the sort to clean a gun when boys come around (I don’t even own one.) But psychological warfare? I’m down.

      1. stomperdad says:

        The Universe does like to try to toughen us up. It has a strange way of hurrying us and slowing us down. Moments. I don’t have daughters to worry about, but I will have to look out for the girls they decide to bring home.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Kids, dude, kids. They all keep us on our toes.

  3. ksbeth says:

    i have turned this into an opportunity and now see ‘can jamming’ as a sport. without a winner.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Yes! Or, a sport we all win playing. Either/or.

  4. You guys can return your bottles and cans? Around here, I have to pay someone to take the recycling away. A big truck comes to the house and gets it every Monday.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I know we can sell aluminum, and recycle bottles. Maybe Michigan’s different. North Carolina doesn’t charge for recycling …

  5. I stopped trying to make sense out of the universe a long time ago. It made my brain hurt! I have taken a very long break from blogging and I am having a hard time getting back into writing. I am trying to do things to keep myself busy. But what is up with this fear? :-/

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I also have given up making sense of things, Courtney. So freeing. We’ve missed your words. I noticed. What if you just wrote a post today?

      1. Ok… here it is! Blogmethis Should listen to you more often.. 😉

    1. Ok.. that is totally random. I wonder why it put part of a quote in the pingback?? :-/

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        I blame Bob Hope.

  6. Kim Munoz says:

    Ahhhhhh Principal Taylor. My woman crush for days!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      So dreamy. Mine for years, Kim.

  7. Love that quote…and your answers. I wish you had a copy of that cartoon you drew.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Shann. I wish I had it too! I wonder if I could replicate it …

  8. Joey says:

    We don’t have can returns here either. I did see in the news recently though that there was a major sting operation to catch two guys smuggling a tractor trailer load of aluminum cans into California. It was $20K worth of cans. Apparently it is not legal to cross state lines to earn the return money. This is a case where I feel that Seinfeld really misinformed me.

    Thanks for answering my question. Pent up creativity lasted for three posts. Getting pretty boring already but I will not apologize!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Oh, Seinfeld had some plot holes, for sure. But I liked most of his girlfriends.

      Can’t wait to feature your guest post here, Joey. Wednesday! Plus, if you want a set of 10 writing prompts, I’m your guy. Plus, I’ll teach you a trick that will ensure you’ll never run out of compelling writing prompts again. (That sounds like link-bait but it’s not!)

  9. makesbakesanddecor says:

    If money was no object I would definitely go to New York, but I would be wearing my Manolo Blahniks and pretending I’m Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City!!
    Lianne | Makes, Bakes and Decor

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      If you’re going to go, Lianne, go all out!

  10. Charlotte says:

    I loved reading all of these responses… I traveled in Madrid when I was in college, a million years ago. I would love to train travel again, you learn so much about life and humanity and people that way.

    I want to see comics/drawings… and also that neat comic 🙂 hope you had a great weekend and if you ever find yourself in NYC, we drink all the cocktails with Bashfully Bold!! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Glad you liked this one, Charlotte. When we can be out and amongst the people, it’s the best – it’s why I prefer to sit in the crowd when I cover baseball games.

      I experimented with sketches with posts for a while. I’ll bring it back!

  11. amommasview says:

    I like your approach re 11:11 and all other things listed. So basically bad luck is not bad luck but you only focus on the bad luck. So all about focus. If you shift it you will remember other things. Like me claiming I always wake up at 3:20am… Sorry for the weird comment… not enough sleep 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s like when people say “famous people die in threes.” Of course they do. Because we see one die, then another, and then we’re waiting on the third. Doesn’t matter how long it takes. And celebrities die all the time.

      Weird comments are my favorite comments, Sandra. You know that!

      1. amommasview says:

        And that’s another one! Yup, agree!

  12. holley4734 says:

    Nice Quote. I love Neil . . . .

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks! He’s always good for a quote to wrap up a post.

  13. Miriam says:

    Loved these questions and your answers even more. Ah, messages from the universe, I know all about that. My car had a dodgy light that wouldn’t go off, until I got sacked! I might have to write a post about it. How’ve you been Eli?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Miri – it feels like that was the longest Go Ask Daddy in history. The way the universe talks to us some days makes Yoda sound straightforward, and others, well, it’s seemingly written on the side of a box!

      I’d love to read that post. I’m doing well – how are you? let’s catch up soon by email!

      1. Miriam says:

        Hi Eli, I enjoyed your post. Long can be good. Oh yeah, the universe has been speaking to me loud and clear lately. But you’re right, at times it can feel in Chinese (unless you speak it, which I don’t).
        I’m doing okay. Life’s been super busy and in a week we’re setting off on a long road trip up central Australia so I’ll be off the grid for awhile.
        At this stage the post is still muddling round in my head. 😏
        I’d love to catch up, it’s been too long.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I like to vary it, Miriam. The universe tends to either keep barking at us, or clam up if we won’t listen – there’s no in between.

        Email me before you set off on your walkabout, would you?

      3. Miriam says:

        I will Eli, soon. If not, nudge me before next weekend. The days have a tendency to get away from me. xo

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