Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Profane When Provoked

 

Hello everyone, my name is Thirsty Daddy.

Crowd : “Hello Thirsty.”

I’m here today because I have a problem, an anger problem. It’s not that I get angry often, far from it. The older I get the less things that I seem to care enough about to get angry over them. I’ve mastered the act of “picking my battles” to the point where I’m actually afraid that I’m missing battles, that I’m slowly becoming something of a pushover.

My problem isn’t that I’m violent or destructive when angry. I’ve never hit anybody that didn’t swing first, don’t have holes in the walls of my home or broken IKEA projects that never got put together. I did get mad at myself and broke a golf club three years ago but it’s no longer an amusement that my playing partners look forward to.

 

follow @angrygolfhulk on twitter

 

No, my problem is this: I swear when angry, an avalanche of F-bombs that spew forth completely uninhibited. I use it as a noun, verb, adjective, just about in any manner possible outside of subordinating conjunctions. I swear frequently, I swear creatively, and sometimes unfortunately, I swear loudly.

Most of these outbursts are directed at the television, a politician, pundit, or newscaster igniting my wrath. Referees and officials at sporting events are also often responsible, particularly during football season. Even if its not my team suffering for their presumed incompetence there may be fantasy or other monetary considerations at play.

The dog gets sworn at a lot. A year later and he’s still not a very good listener. He also likes to grab food off the counter, chase rabbits and stand on tables. Its possible that he’s a bit confused about his name. He only seems to answer to MFer.

 

a sweary father
dumb ass dog

 

My kids? Well, that’s why I’m here today, that’s the problem. I also swear at them.  I’ve done what I feel is an admirable job removing profanity from my everyday conversation but when I get angry those expletives still fly.

Part of the challenge to changing my vulgar ways remains it’s effectiveness. Since I’m not prone to shouting or losing my temper, a sternly voiced curse word and some bulging temple veins informs the object of my ire that I’m serious. Mouths shut, steps get quickened and behavior changes. Whatever outcome I had been previously unable to achieve is suddenly successful.

 

A Sweary Father
learning new words

 

I don’t want to have to be that guy, I want people to listen to me the first thirty seven times I say something. So far the youngest hasn’t started expressing her displeasure in this manner but it’s only a matter of time. I need to be better, to set a better example and to learn to control my tongue.

There may be an economic motivator coming. While attending a picnic this past weekend our shy little girl took it upon herself to chastise an adult for telling another to “shut up.” She was reminded to keep her nose out of adult conversation but not before the amused perpetrator handed her a quarter. Apparently there is a “swear jar” in their household, an idea that appealed to her entrepreneurial nature. She’s intelligent enough to wait for the storm to pass before levying her fines but thankfully not enough to make the correlation between poor behavior and future earnings.

This could get expensive.

 

 

 

The Loneliness of the Modern Father

 

Parents often joke about our kids having much better social lives than we do. My daughter is involved in dance, Daisy Scouts, soccer or softball depending on the season. There are afternoons at the park, play dates, birthday parties. In the past ten days she has had sleepovers at two different houses and has two more scheduled in the next ten. Last night one of her friends slept over at ours. She’s seemingly surrounded by friends at all times.

We joke but I think that a lot of us do it somewhat enviously. Unless you are lucky enough to have friends with children of similar ages or involved in the same activities it can be almost impossible to keep in touch. New friendships are possible, small talk at kids’ practice or in the school pick up line leading to more, but the whole process is awkward and reminiscent of the pre-Tinder days of singles bars and blind dating. If somebody wants to make a quick fortune, develop an app that allows people to browse the interests of the other parents in our children’s classrooms.

 

dad friends
actual picture of me making dad friends

 

We joke about it but it’s a problem. Multiple studies have shown that loneliness and lack of social interaction lead to increased instances of cardiovascular disease and stroke as well as Alzheimer’s progression. Ex Surgeon General of the United States Vivek Murphy called isolation the most prevalent preventable health issue in the country.

It seems to be worse for men, particularly middle aged dads that are determined to spend as much time with our children as we can, to dispel the myth of the happy hour father, stopping for a few pints with the boys as mom prepares dinner and helps with the homework. We aren’t playing beer league softball or golfing on the weekends, we are playing catch, having tea parties. We are at the park, watching our children play and wondering if that other dad on the opposite bench, the one who’s kid seems to really like ours, would think it was weird if we invited them over to cookout some time. We wonder but we never ask.

I’m not sure why that is. Pride perhaps? To reach out invites rejection but it’s also an admission of need. We joke about not having friends to avoid facing the truth. Nobody wants to be the one sitting at a table by themselves in the cafeteria, but even more so I think we are afraid of others seeing us that way.

There’s also a guilt factor. Besides our constant feeling of never having enough time with our children, time spent with our spouses is equally important and hard to find. It feels selfish to be sitting at a sports bar, eating wings, joking with the guys, when I know that my wife is sitting home alone, watching that same ball game on our living room television.

Its something that needs to be given higher priority. I looked at several different studies and the average seems to be that one in four men over the age of thirty five admit to having few or no social connections with one in twenty saying that they had no friends at all. These results seem backed up by a recent conversation in a Facebook Dad Bloggers group where nearly every guy that responded admitted to having at least occasional feelings of isolation, particularly among those that were stay at home dads. There were a lot of positives that came out of the conversation, several meet ups planned, but most important I think was the relief and amazement most felt upon realization that they weren’t alone in feeling this way.

 

I don’t go often but every now and then I will leave work on a Thursday night and stop by the Wolf Den, a live music venue at a nearby casino with free admission and an impressive variety of acts. I’ve seen ’80s rockers Ratt and Slaughter, nineties groups Soul Asylum and Fuel, blues legend Robert Cray and metal band All That Remains.

Typically I go to these shows alone, partly due to a desire to leave immediately after, the Friday morning school run never far from my mind, but also due to a lack of people to call. There are a few, some possibly reading this right now and hopefully not feeling insulted, but I don’t call. For whatever reason, I don’t make the effort. I stand alone, tapping my feet and nursing my beer.

This past Thursday was different. I’d never heard of the band playing, Tim Montana and the Shrednecks, but their bio said that they’d opened for Brantley Gilbert, ZZ Top and Kid Rock so after watching a few of their You Tube videos I headed over. They were really good, outlaw country that I’d describe as a cross between….well, Brantley Gilbert, ZZ Top and Kid Rock.

 

Dad Date
Tim Montana and The Shrednecks

 

It was also different because this time I took the time to call a friend, a co worker that I thought would also enjoy their sound.  It was nothing revolutionary, we’d attended each others weddings, gone to concerts, wasted endless hours of our employer’s time talking about our kids. It was noteworthy only for the effort made, his and my own, effort that was extremely easy but all too often not made.

We need to do better at making it guys. Another survey I came across said that half of all men, of all ages and backgrounds, said that they very rarely talk about deep, personal issues with their friends, a number that isn’t surprising. Also not surprising is that one in three wish that they were able to open up more but were afraid.

We’re doing great things, crushing stereotypes and changing the perception of what it means to be called dad, but somewhere among all of these sacrifices we also lost track of each other. This needs to change.

 

 

A Child’s God

 

 

 

Now that she is almost through with Kindergarten, my daughter knows just about everything. Like most know-it-alls, she has no problem informing others of this fact or educating others about the things that they do not know. She still talks non stop, but there are much less questions than there used to be, instead opening discussions with “did you know?” followed by what feels like a several hour lecture on whatever topic she feels inclined to elucidate on.

Most of the time I enjoy these dissertations, if not the assumption that she knows more than me. They are proof not only that she is paying attention in school, but also that she is still excited about learning new things and is proud of that knowledge.

Other times I have no idea what she is rambling on about and am amazed by the absolute sincerity she projects while stating complete nonsense as indisputable fact. I’m often left wondering where she may have picked up such ideas or if she is just so enamored with the sound of her own voice that she’s content to simply make things up. The degree to which I pay attention can vary, but I was all ears this morning when she sat me down and informed me that “it was time for her to tell me about God.”

Some of her story I had heard before, death being a topic that we’ve discussed before though I’m not sure that she fully understands it, not sure that I want her to. During our plane ride to Florida earlier this month she was convinced that since we were above the clouds, where Heaven was, that she should be able to see dead people out the window. I’ll confess to having no idea whatsoever what to tell her.

The God that she told me about is a maker. In addition to the planet and all the people, He also made the buildings and all the food. He did this to take care of us. He spends his time in Heaven, above the clouds with all the dead people, and He watches over us to make sure that we stay safe and provided for. He wants us to be good people and to do good things for each other. He wants us to all be nice.

Her God is a parent.

 

I have my own personal beliefs, a post for another day perhaps, but religion doesn’t play a major role in our family. Sometime in the near future I’ll start taking her to church and we’ll talk about the things that we hear there. We’ll start at the same Congregationalist Church that her sister and I attended for a while, the one that reminded me of the church of my youth. Their God was a kind one, accepting and tolerant, much like hers.

Along the way she will be taught that whatever she believes, whatever road her own spiritual journey takes, there will be others than believe differently, that have their own Gods and that that’s OK. She’ll be taught that being religious isn’t always the same as being right, no matter how strong and purposeful your faith. She will be taught that there are people that do terrible things in the name of their Gods and also others that do amazing works of charity and good, often in the service of the same.

She doesn’t know near as much as she thinks, but today was a good reminder that she knows more than I think, that there are an increasing number of outside influences on her. I don’t know where she got these ideas about God, but I kind of like the one that she described. He sounds nice.

 

 

The Pics Not Posted

 

Other than a few sports guys, I never was a blog reader before starting my own. To be honest, even then I didn’t realize that what I was reading was a sports blog. I’d heard the term, knew that’s what Cameron Diaz’s character did in the movie “Sex Tape” and remembered Doogie Howzer ending each episode typing into his computer, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.

Now I probably read anywhere between twenty to thirty a day. Lots of dads, some moms, politics, sports, travel and humor.  A few people that just sit down and write whatever comes to mind.  Different experiences, perspectives and opinions. Different voices.

The majority would be considered “parenting blogs”, the niche that encompasses most of what I have to say. ( The topics that I should stick to, according to some. )  One of the things I’ve noticed that all these disparate writers, from all walks of life and corners of the world, have in common is that at some point they begin to question the degree to which they are sharing their lives and the lives of their children with the world. Questions about appropriateness, consent, and even safety.

It’s something that I’ve always tried to be cognizant of without driving myself crazy. Many aspects of the teenager’s life wouldn’t even be considered as shareable, stories that simply aren’t mine to tell.  I will tell you that her final prom was this past weekend, that she had fun, and that she looked beautiful.

 

on line sharing concerns
Beautiful girl

 

It’s harder with the little, consent not so easy to obtain.  I write a lot about her triumphs and idiosyncrasies, but don’t feel that I’ve shared anything that would be considered embarrassing to her in the future. I can only hope that she one day agrees with that assessment.

It was a picture of her that led me down this avenue of thought, one that I was about to post on Instagram…and then didn’t. It’s one that I did post to my private Facebook, one many of you may have seen, a picture taken prior to her latest dance recital. She looks absolutely adorable. She also looks very grown up, her hair done and performance makeup applied.

My Instagram is public, a supplement to this space. It’s accessible to all, including those that may be searching the Internet for pictures of little girls dressed up and looking pretty in fancy dresses and makeup. It was probably a silly thing to think about but I did. I did, and once thought it became an uncomfortable enough idea that the picture remains seen only on the channels that I have control over.

 

When solicited, my advice to other bloggers is simple: use common sense, trust your instincts, and hope for the best. A story about a seven month old peeing in your eye may be funny, one about a seven year old peeing the bed probably better left unwritten. I never share any vacation pictures until I’m back home.

Is that enough? I don’t know.  All of us are living our lives in an increasingly public manner, for better and for worse. Bullying and stalking have never been easier, but neither has keeping contact with those that might otherwise fade from our lives. We all have to decide what level of sharing with the world we feel comfortable with.

 

I’ll leave you with this picture, another one of my daughter looking adorable. It’s not the best one that I’ve taken since she started playing softball, it’s just the best one I’ve taken that doesn’t show the name of our town on the front of her shirt.

 

online sharing
ready position

 

The Perceived Arrogance of Boston and the Political Elite

 

perceived arrogance

 

I think that  even the most ardent of Red Sox haters would agree that Fenway Park is a pretty cool place to watch a baseball game. It’s a national treasure, one of the most recognizable sports venues in the world. Fenway is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, opening in 1917, and also one of the smallest, a full capacity of just over 37,000.

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones has a much less positive opinion of the park, having been subject to racial taunts and a thrown peanut bag during a game on May first.

It was an unfortunate incident, an embarrassment for the Red Sox and it’s fans, but not one that I found overly surprising. Not because of any prejudice that might be held by the people of Boston, but because anytime that you put 37,000 people in one place and give the majority of them copious amounts of watered down beer, there are going to be some that behave poorly. This just seems a mathematical probability, something that happens in all sports and in all stadiums.  According to the Society for American Baseball Research, 36.3% of major league players were something other than American born and white, but just 6.7% were African American.  As reprehensible as it is, it stands to reason that these players, being such a minority, would be singled out by ignorant, intoxicated miscreants.

In any city or stadium.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the narrative in the three weeks since the incident. What should have been a discussion about efforts made to try and discourage this type of behavior, both in the stands and everywhere else in society, has instead turned into another opportunity to label the city and it’s fans as racist. Players from other teams, CC Sebathia, Torii Hunter and others have been trotted out to tell stories of abuse hurled their way by unruly Bostonians. Once again we are reminded that the Red Sox were the last team in the league to field a black player, a signing that occurred in 1959 and hardly seems relevant to current perceptions.

So why won’t this story, this perception go away?

I think that for many it’s simply an easy way to insult, as lazy and unimaginative as the slurs yelled by the occasional bigoted jackass. Boston’s teams have been among the most successful in all of sports and their fans aren’t afraid to remind others of this. The city is home to elite colleges and hospitals. Thought to be among the most progressive in the nation, Massachusetts is squarely “blue state” in a time when that seems to have become synonymous with “elitist arrogance.”

A lot of people seem to think that we think that we’re better than them, and there is nothing more satisfying than finding ways to prove somebody like that wrong.

 

Its a lesson that I think politicians would be wise to learn. I’m convinced Al Gore, John Kerry, and Mitt Romney all lost their Presidential elections in part because to a large segment of the population they were just too unlikable, they presented themselves as arrogant and smug, smarter than anybody else in the room.  When Hillary Clinton rolled her eyes and smirked at Donald Trump’s incoherency during last year’s debates she was perceived as inferring that he was beneath her attention. She helped make an elitist narcissist appear relatable, a limited vocabulary and knowledge of the issues suddenly a benefit to his popularity, a stark contrast to her attitude of superiority.

Take a moment and think about the people you dislike the most, be they athletes, celebrities, politicians, co workers or the fan bases of certain sports teams. The majority of them are people that you feel hold themselves in higher regard than they do you.

 

Later this evening the NBA’s Boston Celtics will host the Cleveland Cavaliers in game one of the Eastern Conference finals.  In the stands will be plenty of people in brand new Kelly Olynyk jerseys. Olynyk was the improbable hero of the Celtic’s victory over the Washington Wizards, the reason why the team was able to advance to face the Cavaliers. A gritty reserve player, Olynyk came off the bench to score twenty six points, twelve of those over a pivotal three and a half minute stretch in the fourth quarter.  Undoubtedly there will be inferences about his new found popularity in Boston being in part due to the fact that he is a white player.

Boston will be huge underdogs in this series. The Cavaliers are led by Lebron James, considered by most to be the greatest basketball player on the planet right now. No matter who he was playing I’d be among those rooting for him to lose, aggravated by my perception of him as somebody that has no problem putting himself onto that pedestal.

I hate people like that.