Would You Die For Me, Daddy?

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

“Would you die for me, daddy?”

Grace tiptoed behind me into the kitchen to ask her question.

She knows I love her, because I always hold out six plain wings for her 8-year-old taste buds when I make them spicy for her sisters and I kiss her face and sing songs about her even if she doesn’t particularly want me to right then.

“Would you die for me?”

To die for her would be to let her down in a way, so I have to measure my words carefully.

How do you tell a baby that yes, you’d die for her, but that you’d rather not? It’s better to stick around for when she starts middle school and high school and finds the going rough on the soccer field or in home room or in the mall when a friend thinks it’s a great idea to steal earrings. Just one pair.

I would die for her.

What dad wouldn’t die for his daughter?

###

So, why is a freckle-faced second grader asking me this?

It began with a “back in my day” discussion with her sisters about the genre of rap music, today so wrapped up in a new holy trinity – money rolls, cars and clothes. Oh, and women. Nameless women. Clubs. Affirmations of toughness and manhood and degradation of women, to make things simple.

I told the girls about conscious rap in the early 90s, music written from the souls of men amidst social upheaval following the L.A. riots. Attempts to personify a plight of young black men and young Mexicans who found their voices with those of Dr. Dre and the Wu-Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg.

“Would you die for me, daddy?”

It’s more than 20 years later, a 2,453-mile drive from Rodney King’s run-in with police, and here I am, all brown on the outside, but white on the inside, raised in a white neighborhood and as close to any inner-city heritage as I am from Canadian ice fishing, and I’m talking the talk like I lived it.

I tell the girls about the iconic dad way back then who, right about this time of year, heard the outrage and fury of the young men around him, black and brown, filled with anger and revenge. He lifted his young daughter onto his shoulders, and, in a soundbite that resonated throughout a culture and a music genre, uttered perhaps the greatest dad quote of our generation:

“I’m gonna tell you right now. If I have to die today for this little African right here to have a future, I’m a dead mother****er.”

“Would you die for me, daddy? And, how would that work?”

###

I scooped up Grace, fortunate that my fight to live for her would probably be such a smoother ride than the unnamed father I’ll always admire. I’ll likely never understand the day-to-day struggles he and his little African knew.

Our neighborhoods are worlds away, but our bond is in fatherhood.

My most conceivable roadblock to living well for my little American? It’s probably my own health. I should eat a salad and make sure I wear my seatbelt. We’re not far from crime and stray bullets where we live, but we’re not immersed in it.

I explain a bit of this to Grace, so she won’t imagine a Hunger Games style of test in store for me to prove my devotion to her. Rather than die, I will live.

We talked a bit about it. About the heart on my driver’s license and what it means for me as an organ donor. About the fact that if a tiger or rhino or allosaurus should ever chase us down the street in search of a meal, I will stay back and wrestle to the death.

She has strict instructions to climb a tree or find a policeman and live to be 100.

This makes her smile.

And I smile, too.

I’ll do all I can to keep from becoming a dead mother***ker for another 100 years.

I promise.

5 For Friday: Things I Put Back At The Grocery Store. No, Seriously.

Sometimes, I’m discriminating when it comes to food shopping.

Don’t laugh.

Sometimes, I put stuff back.

And it’s not always frozen spinach.

I once had a series of out-of-body experiences at the grocery store in which I resembled Mr. Weenie in “Open Season.”

I said “Yah!” but then I said “nein!” to all these items.

I promise.

1. An eight-pack of tall Pepsi Max bottles

Goodness. What a long, tall drink of water you are. No, not you Brooke Wyckoff. Your six friends there, in the slinky black dresses. I could say, “this sweet set of six will get me through 12 days,” because they’re supposed to be two serving sizes each, but I know as well as you do I’d roll through it in four days. So, go hydrate a picnic, you sexy thangs.

2. A box of Nilla Wafers

Absolutely golden. I’m only on my second item, and I’m already all google-eyed. Nothing’s better than putting two Nilla wafers in your mouth at the same time, bottom to bottom, and chasing it with a swig of cold Pepsi Max. Mmm. But, back you go, to become some grandma’s banana pudding.

3. Bratwurst

In a past life, I’m sure I was a cheese monger who grilled out at Packers games. If a hot dog is a hot rod, then a bratwurst is the space shuttle, with a full tank of gas. I once lost a bratwurst to a resourceful cavalier King Charles spaniel, and have played catch-up since. But, to another’s grill you must go.

4. White Castles

When we bought our fly 1984 GMC Eagle wagon, the dealership gave out free White Castles, mini onion-laced burgers from Kansas designed by Jesus to be eaten in bulk. I dreamed of entering a White Castle eating contest in Chattanooga. But, this box must clog someone else’s freezer, and arteries.

5. Pork rinds

I can find no other way to put this: Pork rinds are to Hispanics as potato chips are to white folk. They serve them at Mexican baseball games, with a goodly dose of Tabasco. They don’t even have any carbs! But they have as much sodium as the Indian Ocean. I’ll let one of my hermanos enjoy this bag.

Plus, what’s a good bag pork rinds without a Pepsi Max to wash them down?

Off to the produce section. I think it’s over there, behind the bakery.

But I’m not sure.

What about you – what item have you recently grabbed, put then put back? And which of these things would you vote back into my cart?

5 For Friday: My Christmas Wish List

5 christmas
photo credit: 137194_7306 via photopin (license)

I just barely got my Christmas tree, y’all.

There’s shopping to be done.

I have probably heard Feliz Navidad on the radio twice, three times tops.

I did walk around Walmart late at night with a Santa hat on, but that doesn’t really hold a lot of eggnog compared to the other evidence stacked against me.

Continue reading “5 For Friday: My Christmas Wish List”

5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Sirius matters, eyelid physics and la Republica Dominica

Welcome to an international edition of Go Ask Daddy, live from the tropically breezy Bocelo Bavaro resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I’m here with my new job at Red Ventures, on my first international trip – unless you count an afternoon in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure that trip was illegal.

This one, though, is on the up-and-up, and I had a passport and everything. I’m even speaking Spanish to the natives. And broken, verb-tense-butchering Spanish to Russian women who don’t speak English and want to know who I work for.

(Russian broken Spanish by an Eastern bloc girl, it turns out, is way more endearing than English broken Spanish by a brown dude who should know how to speak the language.)

But that’s food for another blog.

Here’s your answers, kids – dad loves and misses you, and will spend mad Dominican pesos on your gifts. Like, a million of them.

1. What’s the brightest star?

So, sometimes, pop gets it wrong, it turns out.

I hope you didn’t tell anyone at school that your dad said Betelgeuse is the sky’s brightest. I’ve always pointed to that star, on Orion’s shoulder, and you know, it never looked, like, super bright. But it was science, or so I thought, and science is never wrong.

Sometimes your dad is, though. As far as brightness, Betelgeuse ranks a respectable tenth, but that’s like giving a No. 1 vote in college football to South Carolina. Love them Gamecocks, but they’re no Fighting Irish.

The consensus No. 1 in the sky is Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. Know what Sirius means in Greek? Scorching. Seriously. It’s an A1VM spectral type star, as opposed to Betelgeuse, who weighs in at a meager M1-2Ia-Iab.

Psh. I know!

2. Who’s the strongest man in the world?

Kinda what I used to look like. In college.

Well, it used to be me. All three of you thought this. Remember, Marie, when you thought I picked up the van all by myself? Well, I technically did, with the help of a jack. When you learned the physics behind it, you seemed so much less impressed.

Maybe even a little bit bitter. Sorry!

There’s a competition each December called “World’s Strongest Man,” in which competitors advance through a strong man series of events, almost like an NCAA tournament (wonder if President Obama fills out that bracket.) Contestants earn points for squatting cars (yes, cars!), fridge carry (two fridges, thank you very much) and truck/airplane pull (which needs no explanation).

A Lithuanian dude named Zydrunas Savickas won this year, and in 2011, American Brian Shaw won. They had the competition in Wingate, N.C.

If I had known, I’d have entered, girls. I’d have kicked muscle-man butt in the van jack.

Check out this cat:

3. Do your eyelids have blood in them?

I hope I never lose the inclination to ask the questions you do, Grace. I’ll think of you next time I cover a ballgame. I never want to let a good question go unasked! (Even some bad questions, for that matter.)

Isn’t it cool when you look at the sun with your eyes closed? I mean, face the sun. It’s all red. I always thought that was cool, as a kid. (Still do. But I also once thought I was a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Blog for another day, my dear.)

Turns out your eyelids are very blood-rich. They’re also paper thin, so the light passes right through. Your eyelids are also able to transmit red wavelengths well, but not blue ones. This is why you don’t see blue when you look at the sun (actually, please don’t look at the sun), and have to ask about that.

4. Why do ants carry dead ants?

“Son, did you know we’re the only insect to observe Memorial Day?”

Maybe they’re training for the World’s Strongest Ant competition.

Ants carry away their dead not because of some vow of honor like in a war movie. They carry the carcasses away from the colony, just in case they died of disease. I suppose ants learned a lesson watching humans during the Bubonic plague.

Leaf cutter ants have graveyards for the dead, too. Legend has it they have an Elvis ant that others keep seeing at picnics and ant buffets.

5. How far away is Dominican Republic?

It’s 1,362 miles, as the crow flies (assuming the crow won’t drop dead in the Caribbean waters and become a shark snack).

The flight was just long enough for me to see the disappointing ending to the final installment of the Bourne Identity trilogy. And eat a croissant with jelly (the flight attendant forgot to bring my pancakes).

You know, roughly the time it takes for me to make crepes. Or for your teenage sister to fix her hair.

I wish I could have filmed the plane’s ascent into the sky. You would have loved it, and I’m sure I was like an 8-year-old watching it, too. You could have helped me find familiar landmarks. I saw Charlotte Motor Speedway just seconds before the plane lifted into the clouds.

I’m three buffets at the Caribbean restaurant here from you. Probably no more than one or two rum-and-Cokes. Maybe a thunderstorm and a merengue beat away. Hopefully, no more ambling cockroach footsteps away when I turn out the light in my room. (The resort said they’d take care of that.)

I’ll be home soon. And then it won’t matter how far away it is.

Bet you miss my singing, don’t you?

Hasta Luego, mi corazon.

5 For Friday: Things My Elf Would Do That Would Make Your Elf On a Shelf Culturally Uncomfortable

elf on the shelf puzzle

White America – here’s to you.

No, seriously. This isn’t a Brown Power blog making fun of you. Well, not completely. I love your contributions to our American heritage. You know, cookouts, singing Christmas trees, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

The one thing I wish you’d left in the box: Elf on The Shelf.

I choose not to participate. My youngest is too old, at the ripe age of 8. I’m just as busy as any of you. I’d rather eat the snacks I’ve hidden from them and watch Ghost Adventurers on Netflix after they go to bed, not hide a damned elf.

Continue reading “5 For Friday: Things My Elf Would Do That Would Make Your Elf On a Shelf Culturally Uncomfortable”

Mo than I bargained for: The tale of my month of mustache

 

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc
photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

I have visions of Magnum P.I. in my head when this mustache is complete.

Reality is probably closer to Cheech Marin, I realize. See, I’m growing out the Mo. The mustache. I do get nostalgic for the 70s, but this isn’t some generational regression to what once was cool.

It’s part of Movember, a movement among men to leave, as someone at work put it, a lip ferret on our face for the entire month of November.

Why? Fashion. And suaveness. October’s for pink; November’s for lip hair. athletes can sport pink cleats. Runners can paint their hair pink for 5Ks. Everyone can put on their pink ribbons and pink shirts and pink suspenders, to promote breast cancer awareness.

Continue reading “Mo than I bargained for: The tale of my month of mustache”

5 reasons a clutter-friendly car and a dad are a perfect fit

 

clutter
photo credit: First Order Stormtroopers via photopin (license)

When I clean out my car, I do it right.

And there’s always a backlash.

“I’m starving. Where are the snacks, daddy?”

“I’m cold! Where are your sweatshirts, daddy?”

Continue reading “5 reasons a clutter-friendly car and a dad are a perfect fit”

Five for Friday: Kids shows I kind of hate.

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc
photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

I blame them for everything.

And I mean everything. No, not Bank of America and raiders fans. Kids’ TV shows. One of my kids acting up? Probably took cues from “Pair of Kings.” Another kid copping an attitude? Dang “Shake It Up” episodes on Netflix.

Did my daughter really just say that?

No doubt, she learned it from “I-Carly.” Most kids’ shows irk the hell out of me. My skin crawls when I hear that guitar riff that opens most “Good Luck, Charlie” scenes. My lip snarls when I hear Sprouse brothers’ voices crackle on “Suite Life On Deck.”

Continue reading “Five for Friday: Kids shows I kind of hate.”

Hispanic, Unemployed, and Yet, Republican

 

stormtrooper egg hatch

Every day feels like Saturday, y’all.

I feel like I’m 4. Or 94. I miss appointments. Forget which day the pool is closed. I could watch Price Is Right every day. (Not Saturday or Sunday, but I won’t know that until I try and tune it in and find Danger Rangers or This Week With George Stephanopoulos on the air instead.)

I’m not losing it, friends. I’m just, unemployed.

 

It’s given me time to work on my disc golf game (I shot 5-under at Mint Hill!). Play and run with the kids (they kick my butt, so I take them to a figure-8 track nearby so that the laps sort of meld into one another!).

Take a nap (such a good one that I woke up with a sore throat).

Continue reading “Hispanic, Unemployed, and Yet, Republican”