Search

The Bible, The Spirit, & Diet Mountain Dew

Faith, Life, Humor

Tag

youth

Dear Future Boyfriend…

In the 1991 World Championships, Midori Ito had one of the most epic wipe-outs ever witnessed in Women’s Figure Skating.  Why was I watching Women’s Figure Skating in 1991?… Girlfriend…  Future Wife… ‘Nuff Said…  But let’s see the wipe-out in question…

skater

Shortly thereafter, the skater was being interviewed by an eager  NBC sports anchor person.  And in an attempt to bring some real depth to the experience for the viewers back home, asked the skater “What was going through your mind when you realized you weren’t on the ice anymore?…”  The skater, in the best broken English she could muster replied…  “I ask myself…  What am I doing here?…”


With all apologies to Ms. Trainor…  We’re not even close to being THERE yet…  But nonetheless…  What am I doing here indeed?…

This was NOT the PLAN people!…  Her commitment to dance has repelled all other suitors in less time than you can binge watch a season of Stranger Things on Netflix.  The PLAN was perfect…  Finish High School… Dance Professionally all over the globe…  Then maybe at about 30, she might consider dating… Transitioning in her late 30’s from a career in performance to choreography… Start her own company… Conquer the known world…  I mean it was a beautiful plan people!…


But here we are…  And now that I’ve had several days to process the situation, there’s a few things I need to bring you into the loop on…

  1. I distinctly remember 15, 16, 17, & 18…  Like ALL OF IT…  And she has been well versed in all of the things that go along with boys at 15, 16, 17, & 18…  Countermeasures are in place.  You have been warned.
  2. Also… I don’t often shoot firearms, but when I do… I NEVER miss… #CountryBoyStrong the-most-interesting-man-in-the-world
  3. I hope your ego is stable…  She’s in Home School all day… Then Dance until about 10pm…  EVERY… WEEKDAY…  And about a half-day on Saturdays…  There will necessarily be long droughts in communications.  So far, no one has survived this more than a few weeks.
  4. The intensity of the Dance Season is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.  So let me try to give you a glimpse of what a Competition Weekend is like…  If you’re not at the event, she’ll disappear from social media & other forms of communications no later than Friday… sometimes Thursday evening…  And she will not resurface until most likely sometime on Monday…  There are no exceptions…
  5. If you should happen to try attending a Competition in person… Pucker up buttercup!…  It’ll be 6-8 hours of waiting around to watch her dance 3-4 times in 3 minute bursts… And that’s if its a well run event.  The poorly run events have all that, but then make you stick around until midnight for awards.  Before you poke your eyes out, if you’re nice & I like you… I’ll point out a few entertaining Twitter accounts to help you pass the time…
  6. The aforementioned Dance Season is about an every other weekend event from January to May.  Forget the PromPosal…  She’ll be at a competition…  If she’s not at a competition, she’ll be recovering from a competition…  Pretty much just don’t plan to see her or hear from her for those 4-5 months…
  7. If you have survived up to this point, you still need to realize that she has multiple uncles that love Jesus, but not too much… So they’re more than willing to go back to jail again.
  8. She’s a complex individual that equally enjoys The Walking Dead & the Hallmark Channel… Especially during Christmas Season… If that intimidates you, I have a suggestion…

officerbarbrady


Someday, some special someone will clear all the hurdles.  And the thing that pisses me off the most is… I’ll probably like him.  Cause she’s a good kid with a good head on her shoulders.  She’s also a good judge of character & understands how high the bar needs to be set.  And she’s extremely grounded, knows what she wants out of life, & she will not be denied.  So whoever it is… He won’t be a scrub…

scrub

And if one does slip through the cracks…  I’m still very familiar with swamp lands in both Carolinas…

Advertisements

A Real Piece of Shhhh (be quiet)…

In the next 11 months, my oldest daughter will begin driving…  I’ll pause there while you all pray for me…  Contrary to the popular trend of today, she will NOT be getting a brand new shiny automobile that costs nearly as much as the mortgage on my first house.  At least, that seems to be the parental trend where we live.

No… She will be getting… …  A hand-me-down vehicle with over 100,000 miles.  Its not that she’s a bad kid or that we’re trying to punish her.  And she in fact might turn out to be a really good driver (here’s hoping)…  No, she’s getting a hand-me-down because I remember 16 quite well… I remember how I drove… How my friends drove… And I’ve paid attention through the years and it seems that generationally speaking, it doesn’t really matter… 16 is 16 and the driving in general hasn’t improved much…  Insurance companies have certainly figured this out.  Which also brings up the fact that I couldn’t afford to insure her in a fancy new vehicle anyway…

But more than that…  I too began driving on a hand-me-down vehicle and it taught me MANY valuable lessons.  And the most difficult one was the very last lesson it taught me…


The Chevrolet Monza debuted in 1975… You read that right… Not a MAZ-DA…  A MON-ZA…  Based on the mighty Chevy Vega platform, the Monza proved to be such a big winner for Chevrolet that it was discontinued in 1980.  Yep… that good.

Mine was a Red 1980 model… Similar to the one pictured up there above the title… But minus that huge supercharger sticking out of the hood.  Also, the hatch in the rear had a very sweet vinyl covering, just like on this puke green model below.  But my vinyl was black instead of white.  I’ll pause here to allow you merge the two images in your mind…

1976_chevrolet_monza_towne_coupe

The Monza as designed by Detroit, was a 4 cylinder, 90 Horsepower BEAST!…  However, my model had a few unique…  Let’s call them Upgrades…  When I inherited my Monza, it was 8 years old, with about 125,000 miles on it… Just barely getting broken in…

So for starters… literally… My Monza had some broken teeth on the fly wheel…  Or was it the starter pinion gear?… I forget… Either way, about everything 10th time you attempted to start the thing, it made a horrible grinding noise that would cause small children to run in fear.  But 9 out of 10 was pretty good, all things considered…

It also had a removable key.  This was actually a pretty common feature in well loved GM’s of that era.  With the vehicle running, you could just yank the key right out of the ignition.  This proved to be an INVALUABLE asset given the next Upgrade, which is what I called the Sticky 4th Cylinder Syndrome…

Now that may not be the correct mechanical diagnosis… All I can tell you is that between the months of November & March in North Carolina, this vehicle had a MANDATORY 10 minute warm up period required.  Because when the temperature began dipping below roughly 40 degrees at night, that next morning, you’d start the car and the engine would proceed to convulse violently, as if being beaten & strangled by some unseen attacker.  The whole car would literally sit there & shake like one of those rides at the State Fair that has you puking up snow cone & fried Oreos…  Then after about 10 minutes, the 4th Cylinder would kick in and the engine began to purr like a kitten…  Granted, it was like a kitten that smoked a few packs a day, but still…  So my wintertime routine was this… run outside 10 minutes before I needed to leave, start the car, pull the key out of the ignition, go back inside where it was warm, and then after the 10 minutes was up… then you could depart for your destination.

As if starting the vehicle wasn’t tricky enough, my Monza also required Premium 93 Fuel.  That’s perhaps the only thing it had in common with its fancier European siblings.  With anything below 93 Octane, the vehicle would either 1) turn off almost as violently as it started up in the winter OR 2) not turn off at all… It would just keep running and running and running…

gump-runnign

This brings us to the most iconic Upgrade on my particular Monza…  Due to some failed modification to the Catalytic Converter by my then brother-in-law before it was handed down to me, My Monza backfired…  When I say that it backfired, what I actually mean is that it backfired ALOT!… And by alot, I mean more than every few days…  More than even every time you drove it…  This car backfired EVERY TIME I SHIFTED GEARS!…  Seriously!…  Not even kidding…  Every time you’d let off the gas to make the shift… KA-POW!…

Let me just say, that a car that backfires every time you shift gears is QUITE the head turner… Not to mention a huge chick magnet…  Thankfully, it was the 4-speed model & not the 5-speed…

So humility…  Yes… This vehicle taught me quite a bit about humility.  It maybe wasn’t the WORST beater at my high school, but it was definitely Top 5…  It also gave me a greater appreciation for the vehicles I would own afterwards.  Nothing else ever quite compared.


IN AUGUST OF 1991, I KILLED MY MONZA… It died on Highway 308 near Windsor, NC… May it Rest In Peace…

I was cruising back home after a long day on my summer job at the time.  You see, long before Distracted Driving became an actual thing, I had already perfected the art.  So as I was eating my Moon Pie, drinking my Slushie, and trying to find a better tune on the radio… I ran completely off the road…  All four wheels… Without noticing…

Now this is where Driver’s Education kicked in… I knew that the worst thing to do was try to jerk it back on the road.  So instead, I tried to ease it back on… Only one problem… while the shoulder of the road may have been perfectly smooth when I ran off, there was now a huge lip between the asphalt & the dirt I was riding on. Did I mention I was doing about 60mph at the time?

So as I “eased” back on, the asphalt grabbed the wheels & jerked the Monza over into the LEFT LANE…  As I caught a glimpse of distant on-coming traffic, Driver’s Ed went straight out the window & I was officially in OH-SHIT! territory.  To say I panicked at this point would be too kind…  So naturally, I over-corrected back to the right and ran back off the road on the right shoulder…  AGAIN…  For style points, I decided to flip the car over in the ditch that had thankfully appeared.  I did not realize I was upside down until I undid my seat belt & hit my head.  And I was thankful for that ditch because the driver’s side landed right in the gully of it.  The passenger side?… Not so much… I estimate that if anyone had been riding with me that day, they’d have been permanently reduced to about 3′ 11″ in height.

So I got out of the car easily enough once the seat belt was off.  So fast in fact, that the on-coming car in the distance hadn’t even reached me yet.  When it was all said & done, I got off easy…  Just a few cuts from the glass and a bruise across my chest from the seat belt.


cinderella-dkwyg

In 1988, Cinderella released a song called Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)…  And this was the final lesson my Monza taught me.  Although dad did help the process along by not offering to replace the car for about a year.  It taught me not to ever again be an unappreciative little snot-nosed kid that complained about the vehicle he didn’t pay for because it had a few quirks.  And it’s a lesson that still haunts me today…

The Hazards of Dukes

On Friday Night, January 26, 1979… The Dukes of Hazard premiered on CBS as a mid-season replacement.  It went on to air 147 episodes and became the staple of CBS’s Friday Night lineup through 1985.  And it had EVERYTHING a 7 year old boy could want…

And when I say that, I’m talking WAY beyond the obvious things like the car chases, the impossible bow & arrow shots from moving vehicles, or the fact that something had to blow up every other episode.  It had a spirit of rebellion that resonates with every boy on the journey to manhood.  It was about doing the right thing, no matter what the cost seemed to be.  It was literally Good versus Evil every Friday Night.  And somehow…  impossibly… GOOD ALWAYS WON!!!…  Seriously folks, this was weighty stuff that was packed into each one hour episode………  There was also Catherine Bach…


One of the iconic events in every episode was the Duke boys jumping their 1969 Dodge Charger over some river or through some barn.  Somehow, no other car in Hazard County could figure out how to make those jumps, but the General always stuck the landing & kept on going.  Now in reality, they estimate that they destroyed somewhere close to 300 Dodge Chargers filming all those seasons of the show.  Because back in the day, there was no such thing as CGI…

But these car jumps were not the biggest thing about the show that resonated with me. When this show was in its prime, I was still years from even driving a car.  And the car I would start out driving was barely capable of jumping cracks in the asphalt.

For me, it was always about Bo & Luke, jumping out of the loft of some barn to catch the bad guys… JUST BEFORE they got away.  It didn’t happen in every show, but often enough that it became a thing.  And THIS I could relate to!…  I knew barns!…  I knew how to jump!…  I’ll pause here while everybody catches up with where this is going…


So long before my cousin & I would jam on electric guitars during family get-togethers, we found other ways to entertain ourselves.  Like playing “Dukes of Hazard” of course…  And my grandfather had a sprawling farm in central NC that provided the perfect backdrop.  Seriously.. I’m talking cows, chickens, tractors, the whole nine yards…  And of course, the centerpiece was… THE BARN…

I can’t recall what I was really thinking as I stood in the loft that day.  Probably that there were bad guys getting away & I had to do something.  I do remember looking over the ledge of the loft at the ground below only once…  Because I can still hear my own voice ringing in my head 30+ years later…  “That doesn’t look so far…”

So without much more thought than this, I jumped…  And I accelerated to the earth below at 9.8 meters/second square…  Or 32.2 feet/second square if you’re too American to embrace the Metric System.

Either way… 12 feet later I hit the ground with a THUMP…  I jumped up immediately, but I was wobbling around like Michael Spinks after 91 seconds with Mike Tyson…  I think I stumbled past my cousin and at this point attempted to form a word…

Prior to that point, I had no concept of getting the wind knocked of me… Like I didn’t even know it was a thing…  I gasped for air, tying to form words… ANY words…  If I’d been old enough to curse, those are the words I would have chosen.  But no… I had to flop around like a goldfish that jumped out of the bowl for a good 2-3 minutes before air finally returned to my lungs.

And that was when I realized that my right ankle hurt like HELL!…  But I wouldn’t have said it like that at the time, because curse words hadn’t been invented yet.  Fortunately, there was nothing broken, but it was one vicious sprain that had me hopping around 2nd grade on one foot for a month or more because I hated those crutches…


It’s a sobering moment when a boy realizes he doesn’t measure up to his heroes.  And it doesn’t matter if your hero is Bo Duke, Bruce Wayne, or Michael Jordan… Sooner or later, we all have to face the fact that we fall short of those guys in one way or another.  Sadly, some boys get stuck right there & never really grow out of it.  They never recognize that their heroes are flawed too, if not entirely fictional in the first place.  And as a result, they never ultimately find the power & strength that they do possess and that the world desperately needs.  But this is another blog post for another time perhaps…


My landing point for this post instead is this…  I’ve rarely leaped as freely as I did that day…  Whether its been relationships… or career… or my faith… The world taught me I had to be cautious in these things.  That I needed to move slowly and anticipate all the possible outcomes.  Otherwise, I might end up hurt… flopping around on the ground, gasping for air.

But that’s not how we’re called to live… We’re called by Christ to live with boldness… Not reckless, but also not fearful… And so I’ve spent the last 13 years UNLEARNING all the things my first 31 years taught me.  And so I push myself out onto the ledge more frequently now & I try to give less thought to outcomes…  And occasionally, gravity still wins…  But quite often, it does not… And the bad guys get caught!

ELEVEN

At age 11, there were very few things I hated more than piano lessons, but at the top of the list was Baseball…  You see, there was actually a time when I sorta liked baseball, but that had been Pee Wee League a few years prior.  But then some kid in Florida got hit in the head by a pitch & died, so of course… that was pretty much the end of my baseball career.  Or at least I thought it was…


Pause…  This will not be a blog about baseball… or age 11… or piano lessons…  And yet it WILL BE about all those things because that’s how we got here.  I’ve long held back at starting a blog, but now that I have, I like to think it’ll sort of be like Seinfeld… which was the show about nothing.  But it will also be about everything.  So now that I’ve gotten that clarifying mission statement out of the way, back to the story…


Baseball was there one day & gone the next and to be honest, I never really missed it all that much.  I think I was probably too young to even realize it was missing.  Then one day, two years later, my dad picks me up from my best friend’s house on a Saturday following a sleepover.  When I get in the truck, I noticed my old glove was on the bench of the truck.  Strange things were afoot at the Circle K my friends.

Instead of going home, we stopped at the local ball field, where apparently every other kid my age had all gathered.  Dad hands me the glove & tells me to go play… I had no clue what was actually happening.  I’m pretty sure that I convinced all the coaches that day that I was a space cadet, because they kept asking me questions about teams, positions, & tryouts and I kept telling them I wasn’t even supposed to be there… that I was just killing time while my dad talked with the other dads over under the shade trees.


I can only imagine the power struggle that must have taken place at home.  My mom had successfully won the argument for two years and there was no baseball for me.  To this day, I still don’t know if my dad actually won the argument or simply just signed me up and took me to the tryout.  In the end, I guess it doesn’t really matter.


In those two years of not playing, I went from being an average baseball player to a downright awful baseball player.  And as such, I hated almost every minute of it.  My career highlight occurred in my first game when they put me in left field and I caught a pop fly to end an inning.  I can’t tell you much about it because I tracked the ball up off the bat & looked straight into the sun.  I had no clue where that ball was, but I stuck my glove up & by divine intervention, the ball landed there.  I should’ve retired right then…

But instead, I went on to a Little League Career Batting Average of .010…  My hitting was so bad that I intentionally took pitches thrown at me just to get on base.  How’s that for cosmic irony?  Still want more?
Well my second & final year of Little League, I was “rewarded” with a spot on the All-Star Team.  Not because I suddenly became a great player in the off season…  No, I was basically rewarded for having a late birthday and being on a very, VERY bad team.  All of my friends from the prior year (mostly my school classmates) had graduated & moved up to the next level of ball.  Which left me on a team with a bunch of 9 & 10 year olds that didn’t win a game all season.  But every team in the league had to be represented on the All-Star Team, so I was rewarded for being the best player on a VERY bad team…  Something every other kid on the All-Star Team was eager to remind me of…


I gave up baseball shortly after that…  And I gave up piano lessons about the same time…  And it was probably about this age that I started to give up on God too.  I couldn’t have put words to it at that age, but I’m still pretty sure it started about then.  Fortunately, he never gave up on me…  That’s not irony … That’s just Jesus…

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑