Go Ask Daddy About the Slammer, Fire Physics and Wally’s Little Brother

jailThe place where I work is a lot like college.

GAD GRAPHICNot just because of the age of most of my co-workers. I’m not sure exactly, but I’d estimate 88% of my colleagues are young enough to be my little brothers and sisters. And that’s fine with me. A campus with a bowling alley, two food courts, bier garden and pool tables shouldn’t be only for the young.

Grace spent time with me recently at Red Ventures, and asked at least 11 questions.

She did the same on a visit to Wake Forest University for a soccer tournament. She dug the fact that you could live, eat, sleep, learn, and play all, right there. Just like at daddy’s work. She asked about everything, from “do college kids have bed time?” to … well …

Continue reading “Go Ask Daddy About the Slammer, Fire Physics and Wally’s Little Brother”

Giving Thanks for Colorful Ideas, Sidewalk Chalk and Generous Hearts


It’s cool to buy Valentine’s Day candy on clearance in March, and eat it in April. Did you know that?

And, according to Tamara of Tamara Like Camera fame, those Halloween socks are good to go, any time of year.

Get this: It’s also fine to give thanks now. Well, any time of year. Reading Gina from A 4 Star Life reminded me of that.

So I’m going to get in a little, before Easter.

Continue reading “Giving Thanks for Colorful Ideas, Sidewalk Chalk and Generous Hearts”

5 For Friday: Go Ask Daddy About House Heights, Mood Rings and the Art of Cooking


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

I once worked with a bellman who was an incredible eater.

By incredible, I mean “someone get this with your phone, because it should go on YouTube.”

My boy – we’ll call him Nico – ate 10 Wendy’s burgers in a single sitting. With minimal bites. (I wonder what the new Wendy’s girl on the commercials would say.)

A guest bought a Papa John’s pizza for me, my supervisor and Nico, the good bellman. Jong, I’ll call the supervisor, ate a slice. I ate another. Nico ate the rest. In an estimated six bites.

If there was a (pizza) pie chart to represent which of my girls asks the most questions, Grace would claim a share equivalent to Nico’s. When you’re 8 and spend lots of time at daddy’s elbow, you ask many questions.

When you’re 28 and spend time eating daddy’s pizza, you get called out in his blog.

1. How many feet tall is our house?



I have no idea.

I think the people who built it packed up and left the community in the middle of the night, and they left no blueprints.

Let’s see … two stories, 10-foot ceilings, what, a foot of floor/ceiling between them, an attic I probably couldn’t stand up in … yeah, about 100 feet tall.

No, not that tall. I’d estimate it pokes a good 32 feet up in the air.

I wonder if I could bounce a super ball over it.

2. What is brunch?

It’s nothing more than a cruel hoax perpetuated by contrived, parent-honoring holidays and overpriced buffets.

Brunch, a meal that takes place between breakfast time and lunchtime, in place of those meals, is fine for those who sleep in and wake up hungry. But what about those of us who wake up early and hungry?

I’d rather watch The View without Elizabeth Hasselbeck than wait until 10:30 to eat.

I propose a better plan:

6 a.m.

Breakfast: Two eggs, over easy, two warm tortillas, tall glass of milk, short glass of OJ

9 a.m.

Brunch: All your carbs – waffles, waffle sticks, pancakes, French toast, crepes, omelets. Or, three strips of bacon and a poptart.


Lunch: A grilled cheese, potato salad, a couple of carrots, a bottomless Coke Zero.

Don’t be fooled by Mother’s Day and Father’s Day specials and Easter brunches made to feel like special occasions with $20 entry fees. It’s still a meal for those who sleep in.

It shouldn’t cost as much as a half tank of gas – that’s what I call being tricked by a business. It’s NOT hella tight, as the kids say.

3. How do mood rings work?


photo credit: rubygirl jewelry via photopin cc
photo credit: rubygirl jewelry via photopin cc

Every human should have mood-ring technology strapped across their forehead.

Imagine the utility. If your cashier’s in a romantic mood, proceed with caution. If the traffic cop is having a blue day, he won’t get mad if you lag behind a bit.

If your hairstylist shows yellow? Proceed with caution. She’s a bit tense and excitable, neither of which mixes well with scissors.

Here’s what about.com says the colors mean:

  • violet blue – happy, romantic
  • blue – calm, relaxed
  • green – average, not much going on with you
  • yellow/amber – tense, excited
  • brown/gray – nervous, anxious
  • black – cold temperature or broken ring

A mood ring is actually a hollow clear shell with thermotropic liquid crystals inside. These crystals twist in reaction to temperature changes on your skin.

The twist changes the molecular structure of the crystals, which changes the wavelengths, which changes the color the ring displays. It’s more tiny science experiment than soul-reading sorcery.

I lost a mood ring once, when I was a kid. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

4. Does Iona stand for something?


It stands for Independent Oaths of Narwhals of America. Or Immigrant Oatmeal Needs Association. Or perhaps Impact of Oedipus complex for Nootkas Abroad. (Well, those would make good band names, anyway.)

Iona doesn’t stand for anything. It’s a college in New Rochelle, N.Y., with a cool nickname (Gaels) and cool mascot (a burly, man-sized leprechaun-like figure in maroon, wielding a walking stick.)

The Christian Brothers who opened the school in 1940 named it after an island of the west coast of Scotland.

The mascot’s name is Killian. He smiles a lot, even though the Gaels blew the biggest halftime lead in NCAA men’s basketball tournament history this past season (25 points).

Also, there’s no word on his stance on oatmeal needs or the Oedipus complex. (He might think that’s where the volleyball team plays).

5. Do you have to put all the ingredients in order when you make a recipe?

photo credit: chotda via photopin cc
photo credit: chotda via photopin cc

I do, honey.

I’ll probably leave out something small yet significant, such as baking powder. Or baking soda. Or chicken.

I go in order because if I happen to be cooking vegetables or bread or listening to the radio, my man brain can’t handle the strain. You end up with flat pancakes, bitter-tasting tortillas, or accidental vegetarian quesadillas.

I wouldn’t even serve those for brunch.

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”

Jester of Confusion, Meet Queen of Chaos

I’m on the road again.

Well, not technically. I made it back from Dominica intact and happy to be in America (even though there’s no rum in my Coke Zero).

I’m taking my show on the road this week to another blog: AnnMarie’s Tidbits from the Queen of Chaos. I love reading her stuff, so it’s cool to stop by, drop off some words, and hopefully get a slice or three or Malnati’s Pizza in the process.

Come check me out!

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”

When first graders attack, at least they apologize eloquently

photo credit: #221/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #221/366 via photopin (license)

Pacifist prison wardens? Tenderhearted bouncers? Forgetful waiters?

You’ve got your troubles, I’ve got mine, brother.

For I am Lunch Dad. Hear me roar.

When the call goes out for volunteers to run herd during lunch, I answer.

The 30-minute drive to get there? Worth it, every time. Giving Grace’s awesome teacher a moment’s peace to nosh on a turkey club? Surprising Grace in the chow line for a steaming tray of chicken triangles and a carton of chocolate milk?

Being bear-hugged by Ewoks? Storytime and Hangman and making origami?

photo credit: Tempting... via photopin (license)
photo credit: Tempting… via photopin (license)

A stellar afternoon. Usually. But on this particular day, it felt like Alcatraz.

One day later, I received a gift from the class: A paper-clipped stack, an eighth-of-an-inch high, of that little blue-and-red-lined paper – you know, the stuff that helps guide us as we scribble lower-case W’s and practice that swinging loop on our cursive F’s. A blue-lined sticky note clung to the top of the pile:

Mr. Pacheco –

Please find apologies from our class. I do believe that they are truly sorry for their actions. I hope you come back again this year!


Mrs. S

Red Apple

Check out my lunch-dad stats: 3,294 hugs received. One kiss on the forehead. 2,103 heart-felt hand-holds. 973 go-gurts, Sunny D’s and thermoses opened for kids. 77 delighted squeals, give or take a dozen, spread over nine years on the job.

Oh, and a cupful of praise from teachers along the way.

Mrs. S felt the need to defend my honor as if I were some sort of noble Occupy Classroom martyr.

I’d been sacrificed, among:

  • the ghosts of butt-shaking dances
  • kids perched on tables and chairs
  • piggy-back rides given, or taken
  • sneaky maneuvers past me to erase names of boys and girls cited for naughty behavior
  • utter misuse of bathroom privileges
  • gross misconduct with strips of yarn
  • a spirited auction for a mini puffed-rice treat, drizzled with chocolate
  • and the un-American and inexcusable (but admittedly funny) humiliation of a simple white-bread hot dog bun  – all in the din of tiny voices that find power collectively busting through that level 3, 4, 5 – (5,000?) speaking voice

No bleeding. Minimal crying. Moderate tattle-taling. One child, shattered because she didn’t hear the story read that she picked. Another kid, remorseful when I scrawled her name on the board for inciting Los Angeles-caliber rioting.

But let’s see your average Lakers fan rioter pen notes as sweet as these:

Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for what my friends did. We really hope he comes back to do lunch again. My apologies.

Apology accepted. It’s very big of you to apologize on their behalf. They owe you one.

Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I’m sorry for the things I did today. It won’t happened again. I really hope you will come back.

Thanks. The doctor said my limp will last only a few months, and my memory will return.

What’s your name again?


Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for being not at a level 0 for the 15 minutes. My behavior will not happen again.

Aw, that’s OK. I’m at a level zero all day at work until I have a Coke Zero. I feel you, kid.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for talking. The behavior you saw will not happen again. We want you to come back.

Now you have me worried about what I didn’t see. What happens after the weenie dance?


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for rampaging, getting mad. I won’t do it again. I promise.

I’m willing to forgive and forget because you used the word “rampaging.” Well done, lad.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry that my class was so talky today at lunch. That won’t happen ever again.

Talky is fine. Ask the hens around me where I used to work. Oops. They read this column! Next.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for yelling. Hope you can come back. I am very, very, very sorry you feel bad.

Know when you told me, “You won’t write me down. You don’t even know my name?” I cheated by asking one of your classmates for help. It wasn’t really magic. Just kinda.


Mr. Pacheco,

The “one-hour drive just for nothing” will not happen again. I will not do the stuff I did again.

I’ve been quoted! I forgot I was wearing a teacher microphone. Good thing I didn’t cuss.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

You can feel safe to come and not see or hear us do it. I hope you will feel comfortable to come.

I was SO very brave; were you the one stroking my hair as I hid under the desk?


Dear. Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for shaking my booty. I promise it won’t happen again. I hope you come back.

At least once a soccer season, I mutter that too: “I am sorry for shakin’ my booty.”


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry about lunch. Will you come back? I hope we’ll never do it again. Please come back! Because you are silly and fun! Come back!!!!

If ever a letter clinched the deal, here it is. I’ll be back, sweetie.

I won’t desert you. Remember the boy yelling “Come back, Shane!” in that movie? I’m not about to become Shane. It’d be like being a window washer, who’s afraid of heights. A baker, who hates to wake up early. A Bobcats fan, who likes to mingle with thousands of friends.

I am Lunch Dad, after all. Hear me roar.