Collage of video stills.

1. RANDOM CULTURAL REFERENCE GENERATOR. When I’m riding in the car with my youngest, I never know what pop culture reference will suddenly enter her mind and send her into a fit of laughter. On a recent drive, within the space of 10 minutes, I heard her shout out, “Dee Dee, what are you doing in my la-bor-a-tory?” in the exaggerated, formal tone of Dexter from the cartoon series, Dexter’s Laboratory. A minute later, when we passed a former International House of Pancakes restaurant that now housed another business, she declared, “Nice try, IHOP,” in imitation of a College Humor video that features an actor from The Wire pretending to expose the scam behind the restaurant chain disguising its distinctive, gable-roofed buildings as anything but a pancake house. Minutes later, she began singing a snippet from a Vine video in which a little girl hilariously misinterprets the line from a Frank Ocean song, “a potato [apparently, it’s supposed to be a tornado] flew around my room before you came.” While I didn’t get any of these references until she explained them to me, I must say it was still a highly enjoyable ride. Being with her when she gets in one of these silly streaks is a bit like keeping company with a Magic Eight Ball. You never know want funny line you might get next, but each of them is curiously entertaining.

Read More...
Father bundles up in winter, daughter wears summer clothes.

1. NOT SO TOUGH. My daughters and I have decidedly different responses to single-digit temperatures. They leave the house with whole patches of skin exposed to the elements, while I wrap myself from head to toe in double layers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not as tough as they are, or just a whole lost wiser. For my ego’s sake, I’ll go with wiser.

Read More...
Comments
Collage of man and dog resemblance.

1. PET TWIN. I know it’s a common observation that people look like their pets, but it was still a shock to me when my daughters saw a recent picture my wife had taken of our dog and said, “That looks just like Dad!” Of course I don’t see any resemblance between my physiognomy and a Yorkshire Terrier’s, but I am a little worried that others might draw the same conclusion my daughters did. At 54, I’m too settled with my looks to consider any extreme makeovers that might make me appear less canine-like, but I have made one important change. I no longer complain about the expense when my wife takes our dog to a professional groomer. I am suddenly very invested in making sure our little Yorkie always looks his best.

Read More...
Comments
Blogger with actors from Grumpy Old Men

1. TWO ROADS DIVERGING. As I proceed further into middle age, I now realize there are two paths you can take. The first is to remain young at heart and not resent the habits and tastes of the younger generations behind you as they gradually take over the world. My wife certainly seems to be traveling down this road. While others my age often complain about the young being so distracted by social media and their smartphones, they don’t know how to have real, look-you-in-the eye human interactions, she thinks it’s wonderful that technology has created new ways to connect that she believes don’t replace, but rather supplement, old forms of communicating. Of course, the other path one can take is to gradually transform into a crank, constantly lamenting about how far modern times fall short of the good old days. Yes, when I insist my oldest daughter has to turn off that “horrible” rap music she listens to or I wonder why some beautiful young person would cover their skin with tattoos, I realize I’m traveling on the path to grumpy old man-dom. I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be able to overhaul my opinions to the point that I could consider the “music” created by a rapper like Childish Gambino equal to the brilliance of Neil Young or Van Morrison, and as someone who grew up on George Carlin and Richard Pryor, I’ll probably never be able to muster more than a snarky, disapproving chuckle at the “humor” of YouTube sensations like Jake and Amir. But to avoid the risks of being perceived as nothing more than a disgruntled geezer, I have decided that when talking to my children I will no longer start sentences with phrases like, “In my day…” or “You kids today…” Baby steps.

Read More...
Family sharing a dessert.

1. SHORT RESOLUTIONS. Okay, one of my New Year’s resolutions is already broken. To work on getting my body mass index into the healthily fit and not just acceptable range, I had vowed to cut out all desserts. But last night, my family and I shared a slice of tiramisu at an Italian restaurant. I suppose I could kid myself into believing that eating just a quarter of a dessert doesn’t constitute a real breaking of a vow. But rather than cling to any false victory, I will take full pride in this year’s honestly gained achievement. I went a full 42 hours before breaking a resolution. So for me 2015 sets a record for determination and self-discipline that I’ve never reached before!

Read More...
Collage of mother and father with two daughters

1. STATISTICS MUST LIE. For years, I have kept a daily exercise journal. For me, doing so has been a great source of motivation to help me get off the couch. And at this time of year, I get to see if I’ve made my goal of running or walking at least 1,000 miles for the year. Sadly, for 2014, I didn’t reach that mark, and in looking back at my records for the past few years, I’ve noticed a steadily sloping decline in the miles that I’ve been able to get in each year. So all that telling data has helped me reach one of my resolutions for next year. I’m going to stop keeping records!

Read More...
Collage of family opening presents.

1. CHANNEL SANTA CLAUS. Even though my kids have long since stopped believing in the man in the red suit, they still insist we can’t put any presents under the tree until after they go to bed on Christmas Eve. When I tell them it would be easier on their mother and me if we did, they protest, “But it wouldn’t feel like Christmas.” I guess it’s a testament to my wife’s and my dedication to being good parents that we oblige them, even though our middle-aged backs don’t relish the prospects of carrying loads of boxes up from the basement at midnight. My one demand for granting this wish is that the kids put out some milk and cookies for Santa. My always health-conscious wife advises the girls that “Santa only needs one cookie,” but I insist the girls put more than a few on the plate. Santa’s reindeer need a few treats to reward them for their efforts, too!

Read More...
Family hanging ornaments on Christmas tree.

1. BULB CONFUSION. Every year, at this time of year, I remember that I forgot to follow through on the vow I made to myself the year before: take a quickie electronics course before Christmastime arrives so I won’t have to waste hours trying to figure out how to get all the bulbs on our tree to light up.

Read More...
Daughter decorated her dad's car in pink.

1. UNCOMFORTABLE MAKEOVER. Since my oldest is ready to get her license, I made a serious mistake – deciding to share my car with her, given that I rarely use it during the week. Somehow she read “share” as own, so she gave the car’s interior a makeover. Now there are hot pink covers on the steering wheel and rearview mirror, and pink dice dangling from the mirror, which she hung because “they’re so tacky, they’re ironic.” On weekends when it’s my turn to “share” the car, I drive it wearing the same gear celebrities in disguise do — sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled as low as it can go — and I always keep a vigilant eye out for cars filled with my daughters’ friends. If I pulled up alongside one of those, it probably wouldn’t take long for a picture of me driving the teen-girl mobile to show up on some social media site. Those dreaded paparazzi are everywhere!

Read More...
Comments
Ice skating at a rink.

1. ROLLER DERBY ON ICE. From afar, the outdoor ice rink where my daughters and I go to skate can look like something out of a Currier and Ives card – people of all ages bundled up in coats, hats and mittens, having fun across the frozen surface, while onlookers lean on the walls of the rink, sipping steaming hot chocolates. Once you’re on the ice, though, it can feel like you’ve been dropped into a scene from the movie Slapshot …. (more)

Read More...