Not only from Jesus or Aristotle or a Flock of Seagulls, but from the NFL players I get to Interview when I help out the Associated Press. Keyshawn Johnson, Tony Romo and Larry Fitzgerald are among my favorites in the NFL, but my first interview out of college played out like a band geek asking out the cheer captain.
Or at least the girl with the reputation.
I’m not sure what I meant to ask former Charlotte Hornets star Larry Johnson way back in the day, but I vomited the words like someone tossing a box of Scrabble down the stairs.
I’ll attempt it with … an ant. Well, a colony of them. And free basketball. Maybe even tales of prisoners of war and dust mites. But let’s face it – you want to follow up a stellar blog about how to photograph kids and moose, which happened here at Coach Daddy earlier this week, about as much as you want to stand behind me in a buffet line.
Luckily, the kids asked some nifty questions for me to sift through this week.
Not worldly, in the sense that they eat caviar and listen to NPR. They know stuff. Or at least, they know stuff to ask about. Heavy stuff, like, art. And things that lead to salmonella. And inquiries of arachnid origin.
OK, so maybe that doesn’t make them worldly. But Elise did almost invent the iPhone, Marie organized a stamp-out-school-lunch petition, and Grace learned to play the recorder with the wrong hands in the wrong places, and re-learned it all to put her right hands in the right places.
These are the kids who wondered about horses’ safety in water polo, didn’t know San Francisco was in California, and laid down with me to watch a movie on the couch, then asked, “dad, why is everything sideways?”
“Because you’re sideways, lovey.”
Let’s get to questions.
1. Where is the Mona Lisa?
She’s all the heck over Pinterest, as a frazzled-haired teacher with bugged-out eyes, a toothy rendition titled “Mona Teetha,” and even a picture of her with milk jug in hand and milk mustache, captioned, “Got Milk?” The painting has been stolen and had acid thrown on it over the years.
Because this Leonardo Da Vinci painting is so famous, it’s often parodied and targeted. This is not unlike Beethoven’s ninth symphony, final movement, which has been used to pimp everything from Bruce Willis movies to fiber products for regular bowel movements.
Not true. My commenters are very considerate, and I appreciate every single one. There’s widget thing I can add that creates a whole new set of fields for comments, but it seemed kind of complicated. I want to keep it simple. All they have to do is enter their name, their email address (which is never shared), and if they want, a link to their own blog or website.
Unless you’re the two Russian spammers who have subscribed to my blog. I know them by creative usage of the English language and lots of links to shady websites. Prevyet, comrades!
3. Do people put raw eggs in water, then drink it?
It’s a boneless chicken spritzer.
Get it? Boneless chicken?
OK. Eggs have lots of carbs, and are a good source of protein and good fat. When you cook an egg, it lessens those nutritional values. You know, like raw vegetables, which are better for you when you eat them raw. You get all the benefits that nature intended for the chicken embryo.
But because nature doesn’t care for those who eat chicken embryos, nature invented salmonella.
Let’s stick with scrambled egg burritos, shall we?
4. Are tarantulas poisonous?
I think most people don’t leave them on their skin long enough to find out.
When you have hairy legs and big fangs, you don’t make many fans. Luckily, I have no fangs. Tarantulas are disgustingly venomous: They stalk their pray, leap on it, and sink their hollow fangs into it. The venom liquefies all its prey’s guts. Voila: It’s bug stew, a la tarantula.
Tarantulas get a bad rep from being big and creepy, and liquefying bugs’ guts, but unless you’re allergic, a tarantula bite is no worse than a bee sting.
5. Do fish have ears?
Fish have ears inside their heads, which is sort of like having an umbrella in your car when it starts raining while you shop. Kinda useless. Fish instead use lateral lines on their sides to sense changes in water pressure. I kind of wish people had these too, or at least you girls did, when you play soccer.
Only, your lateral lines can tell you when a kid from Mt. Pleasant or Odell is bearing down on you with cleats high. Can you imagine? You’d be all ducking and weaving and making kids miss when you had the ball. Oh wait … you do that already. Maybe you already have lateral lines.
Just don’t grow any hollow tarantula fangs, and we’re good.
Today, I’m handing the clipboard to Jen from Another Jennifer blog. You’re in capable hands. I mean, these hands once steered the Wienermobile. How cool is that?
I found out about Jen’s jealousy-inducing summer job out of college, and just had to have the story on my page. I mean, this is a blog about fatherhood, futbol, and food. The last is the final pillar of the holy trinity of my pages.
Check out her work at Another Jennifer. I’ve said it before – she’s not just another Jennifer.
My first job after I graduated from Syracuse University was driving the iconic Wienermobile. I was a Hotdogger, to be more specific.
I traveled the southeastern part of the United States with two other recent college grads and auditioned kids to be in the next Oscar Mayer commercial. We mainly visited zoos, amusement parks, military bases and baseball parks.
As my classmates prepared for their fancy management training programs in corporate America (the economy was much better back in 1998), I had a week to dump my stuff at my parents’ house in Massachusetts and make my way to Madison, Wis., for my own two-week corporate training program, Hot Dog High. (For those interested, I am a Hot Dog High XI graduate.)
When I look back on the experience now, I realize how incredibly lucky I was to even be offered such a job. I actually read in an article that it’s statistically easier to become President of the United States than to become a Hotdogger. The experience most certainly set me up to become the entrepreneur that I am now.
I probably learned more in that summer than I have in all my other years combined. Here are six life lessons I took with me from driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile:
1. Be yourself
My first interview with Oscar Mayer was more of a random conversation than an actual interview. I left the room in the SU Career Center thinking there was no way I would get past the first round, which I was told included more than 1,000 resumes.
I got a call two days later telling me they’d like to fly me out to Madison for a second interview. In that interview (which lasted two days), I sang on camera in a conference room and talked about my most embarrassing moment.
You can’t prepare for an interview process like this. My resume got me in the door. Being comfortable with myself got me the job.
2. Don’t take life too seriously
When your primary mode of transportation is a 22-foot long hot dog, it’s hard to let the little things bother you. There’s no such thing as a quick trip to the store to buy deodorant, and when you break down you have to explain where to find the engine to the mechanic.
Our old Wienermobile, Bologna, was steaming hot (pun intended) and the radio barely worked. We worked long hours, seven days per week. Do you think we complained? Heck no. We were driving the freaking Wienermobile while our friends were at their “real jobs” working in air-conditioned cubicles.
3. Drink lots of water
I’m a New England girl. I’m not used to the heat of the south, which is where my team was stationed for the summer. The heat index, along with the fact that everyone wants to buy drinks for the drivers of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at the end of the day, taught me the importance of having a large bottle of water with me at all times.
(Note: We had a stipend for cab rides so we could go out sans hotdog in the evenings we didn’t pass out from heat exhaustion.)
4. Break the rules every now and then
The kids were supposed to have a limited time to sing either the “Wiener Jingle” or the “Bologna Song.” That’s it. We often had big lines and needed to keep things going. But when a 4-year old triumphantly grabs the mic and belts out a five-minute version of “I Believe I can Fly” or when a 7-year old girl messes up the words and sings “Cuz if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone would be making love to me,” you let that go.
Sometimes the experience is more important than the results.
5. Always look on the bright side of things
We weren’t alone in our travels that summer. PETA actually sent out protestors to most of our events around the country. And my team happened to have the route that included a stop in the town where PETA was headquartered.
Instead of being intimidated, we looked on the bright side. They got extra media coverage for us, helped reinforce our theme of “food, family and fun” (not really their intention, but that’s what happened) and the kids got a kick out of the protestor dressed up like a pig.
Thanks, PETA! (Note: Yes, I got to see how Oscar Mayer makes hotdogs and bacon. Yes, I still eat it.)
6. Human interaction is good
When I drove the Wienermobile, there was no Twitter or Facebook. We weren’t blogging. We had a cell phone that we only used to make calls when we broke down or to check in with Madison. Most of our media and event calls were made in the hotel. By today’s standards, we weren’t very “connected.”
Yet I probably connected – really connected – with more people in that one summer than I ever will again.
People still don’t quite get what I did that summer. And that’s fine with me. Perhaps the most important life lesson I learned that summer is to grab an opportunity when it presents itself. Because you may never get that chance again.
What’s the craziest job you’ve had?
Jennifer Barbour is a copywriter, blogger, aspiring author and new media consultant. She aims to inspire, to entertain and to make you think. Her passions are writing, philanthropy, her awesome family and bacon, though not necessarily in that order. You can find out more at anotherjennifer.com.
Food’s never far from the kids’ minds. Where do they get that?
The crown jewel of dinner tonight wasn’t the lightly-breaded chicken breast, or the steamed vegetable medley, or even the store-brand root beer. It was the mac and cheese – the creamy, gooey kind that uses the sauce, not the powder, to make the noodles cheesy.
Why didn’t I think of this – combining pasta and cheese (and artificial colors like mac-and-cheese orange) to produce a crowd-pleasing side so cheesy it often steals the show from the entree?
Who thought of this heavenly dish, anyway?
My first guess is Jesus. Or, his wife.
Mac and cheese’s origin was only one of a handful of questions I fielded from the kids this week.
1. Who invented macaroni and cheese?
I’ve often thought this was the third menu item on the list for the Gods, right after ambrosia and honey.
Greeks might have had the market on ambrosia, bur the Romans – well, the Italians, at least – get credit for the first mac and cheese. A 13th-century Italian recipe book included “de lasanis,” which includes sheets of pasta cut into 2-inch squares.
Thomas Jefferson loved the stuff, and first served it in the White House in 1802. My guess is it was a pretty good caserole-looking mac and cheese, too. Mmm.
2. Why did that man eat 28 raw eggs?
My guess is to make headlines. And he did. With his death.
No 20-year-old should go this way. Heck, no 40-year-old either. Poor Dhaou Fatnassi, a 20-year-old Tunisian, was just two eggs short of downing 30 raw when he collapsed. Seems he had a bet with a mate on 30 eggs. I wish he’d opted to have them in an omelette the size of a surf board instead of all salmonella flavored.
What his story tells me is that I’m probably safe eating a half cup of raw cookie dough, which is way under the equivalent of a half cup of cookie dough I “sample” to make sure everything’s good.
3. What is a Sooner?
The University of Oklahoma’s mascot is a one-of-a-kind – but then again, there’s only two schools whose teams are called “Catamounts,” too.
The “Sooner” name has Civil War-era roots and good connotations. Sooners were those allowed to stake claims on land in the Old West. Sooners are said to be those who move out ahead of the pace. They’re ambitious, competent, and have that “can do” spirit that epitomizes the West – unless they’re losing to Boise State in a Fiesta Bowl or something.
I was a Sooner once. When Aunt Sandy got a job at the new Greeley Target, I got to go on family day to stake out all the cool Star Wars figures I wanted before the general public! I’m pretty sure I walked away just with Klaatu in the deal. But, it was that pioneering spirit …
4. Why does the Redskins’ RGIII wear that sleeve?
Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins quarterback, has that rare dual action of cool and talent that really has all three of my girls’ attention. Grace even has his poster up next to her bed.
Maybe he reminds them of their dad.
Griffin wears a sleeve on his non-throwing arm. Perplexing. Is he ambidextrous, and keeping the spare limb warmed up? Is he allergic to the FedEx Field turf? Is it just a cover up for bionic components?
Turns out, it’s for show. Griffin, in an interview with CBS Sports, cited flash-over-substance Hall of Famer Deion Sanders in saying “if you look good, you feel good, you play good.”
I thought the cool hair and silly little chin beard did that.
Turns out RGIII wears that sleeve for the same reason the San Diego Padres wear a glove on one hand – well, there is no real reason.
5. Was Jesus married?
You’d think someone would have designs on Jerusalem’s most eligible bachelor.
Being a carpenter’s son is one thing; being God’s son raised by a carpenter is something else altogether. TMZ reports Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife, and that they even had a kid. Outside of Davinci Code, however, a camel has a better chance of passing through the eye of a needle than you have of finding literal evidence of a Mrs. Christ.
Can you imagine, though?
He’d come home late from another late night of miracles and parables, to hear his wife say, “what, do you think you walk on water?”
She’d be ticked if he invited not just a buddy or two over, but ALL TWELVE DISCIPLES, again!
And think of that kid, too. I mean, it’s tough enough to be Ken Griffey Jr., Blanket Jackson, even Jeb Bush, but Jesus Jr.? As His coach, I’d want to play him in goal every game.
Baby flying squirrels instinctively know how to fly when the time’s right.
A baby viper? He’ll coil up and strike at a young age. And kids know how to spin a story so hard they hope you’ll forget the original question. It’s like, they’re ready for Capitol Hill. Dad’s question: Grace, how did your curtain rod get bent?
I’d noticed it at bedtime, crimped and sagged yet still holding up the drapes.
Did I get a simple answer? This would be the shortest blog I’d ever posted if I did. No, it went a little like this … Camdyn:So, Hayden and I play this game, when it’s time to clean up. We each have to set our chairs. But, we have to sit upside down, and all twisted up.
Well, not literally. But the kids, they think pops is loaded. Filthy rich. Not just filthy. I suppose when you’re a kid, $20 is a fortune. Even kids today. What they don’t know is that Bank of America, All-State and Duke Energy draw lots for the bulk of my take-home.
The rest goes to Food Lion and Aldi. And the local dollar-menu joint. (Just doing my part.)
Grace asked how much money I make, and when I told her (note: this won’t be an answer on Go Ask Daddy), she acted like she’d just won the Showcase Showdown. The scheming 8-year-old mind never rests.