Five Songs I’ve Heard From Other Cars While Waiting for My Kids

For the last few months I have been given the freedom to pick up my toddlers from school. It’s one of those daily mundanities that keeps me from being a total slob and walking out of my house in flip-flops, basketball shorts and no deodorant on weekdays.

I tend to arrive about fifteen to twenty minutes before the kids get out. Generally, I try to read, listen to NPR, or thumb through various social media feeds on my phone. But every once in a while, my efforts to entertain myself are interrupted by the loud sounds pounding from other parents/guardians vehicles.

Now I can’t say for certain whether or not I might have done something like this in my younger days, but for the sake of this post, let’s assume I had the good manners and consideration for others and never engaged in such rude behavior.

Show the World – Lil Boosie feat. Webbie and Kiara – I didn’t turn around to see who was playing this song. Since Boosie’s release from prison, the radio seems to be doing its best to make sure this song pops. Personally, I hate this song, and my hatred extended to the driver of the car who was playing it.

Don’t Say Goodnight – The Isley Brothers A late model Jeep pulled into the parking lot one day with all four windows down blasting this song. It was actually kind of nice considering the sun was high in the sky, the breeze was blowing and everything else kind of matched the mood of the song, other than we were all about to pick up grade school children.

Wood Wheel – Underground Kingz A Camaro a couple of parking spaces over from the minivan played this loud enough so that the even with the windows up, I could hear the lyrics to this syrupy classic. Sure kindergartners were only separated by glass and a brick wall, but how else were they going to learn the song for the end of the year recital.

Love And Happiness – Al Green Some dude in one of those semi-fixed up pickup trucks came into the parking lot blasting this. When I heard it, I knew whoever was playing was mainly a blues guy. I mean, I don’t really know if he was mainly a blues guy, but it made sense when I thought it.

Licking Stick – James Brown This lady drives a beat up Ford Explorer, and for about a week she came up to the school windows down playing all manner of James Brown. She let this song finish one day while she sang along head bobbing with the somebody farted face. The only other artist I’ve heard her play was Zapp, so all things considered, she’s okay in my book.

On Diet Coke

There was a point in my life when I would have placed people who drank Diet Coke into one of two categories; one would have been incompetent calorie counters and the other would have been old people. It was the concept of Diet Coke that offended me, its selling point was great taste AND fewer calories, and at that point in time the saccharine sweetness was beyond my understanding. As far as the fewer calories were concerned, I didn’t see how that mattered when everyone I knew who drank Diet Coke consumed it in liter quantities daily.

However, I’ve grown to appreciate things I used to ridicule as a child; things like, quiet evenings, jazz music, foreign film, a nice salad, light beer, and Diet Cokes.

Without any pretense, Sold Out flashed when I pushed the button for Coke on the vending machine. The machine belched out my consolation prize, a watered down version of The Real Thing masquerading as something more in a silver can. But the taste didn’t offend me like it used to, something like a fully carbonated flat soda, Diet Coke was speaking a language my more mature, greying palate understood. Not really sure what was being said, but I liked it.

A Day In the Life, November 28th, 2012 (pt. 2)

4:30 p.m. – Arrive home. Greet kids, get a rundown of the day from the oldest boy.

4:34 p.m. – Start a pot of boiling water for spaghetti, and begin to reheat the sauce.

4:55 p.m. – Change three diapers. Curse myself for not having the trips potty trained by now.

5:05 p.m. – Locate and wash, the as of yet, unused potties.

5:10 p.m. – Minor heart droppage as I witness The Rose, power through the last container of Strawberry and Banana Chobani that I bought earlier that morning.

5:12 p.m. – Drop the spaghetti noodles.

5:24 p.m. – Strain and then toss noodles with a little olive oil.

5:33 p.m. – Feed the triplets and The Rose. Call oldest son down to eat, but no formal response was received.

5:35 p.m. – Feed myself. It’s a joyless task at this point, but the sauce is pretty good. Minor sadness regarding the fact that I didn’t get any garlic bread on the way home.

6:15 p.m. – Wife arrives with daughter from basketball practice. We exchange grunts of displeasure regarding our day and keep it moving. The oldest daughter efficiently responds to questions about her day with equal parts displeasure and derision with one word answers.

6:25 p.m. – Call the oldest boy down from his 45 minute grooming process in order to shuttle the lad to night school.

7:05 p.m. – May or may not have cried in the driveway.

7:06 p.m. – Unlocks back door, makes reluctant return to home.

It’s around here that I unofficially, stopped writing everything down. The combination of the day coming to a close, physical and mental fatigue, and the tedium involved in cataloguing the day, had kind of, organically faded away. Not much was missed though. At 8:30 p.m., I leave to retrieve my son, but before that, I witness either The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, or the Charlie Brown Christmas special with the trips. By the time I get back home, I’m putting heads to bed. Putting the babies to bed ends somewhere around 9:45 p.m. and sometimes (depending on how defiant they are) 10:30 p.m. It’s at this point, that I might actually try and complete something that I want to do. Usually, I go for low hanging fruit, like watching some television. Cut to three hours later, being awakened by loud sounds from the television and the lights still being on. It’s at this point, after I’ve checked the clock, that I realize that the next time the alarm goes off will be in 3.5 hours and I wonder, “How did I get to this wash, rinse, repeat phase in my life?”. More importantly, how can I stop it?

Re: The Beard

Yes, this is a blog about minivans. However, allow me a little latitude for the moment, to take this time out to discuss (yes this is rather late) the surge in facial hair on men.

Now, I grew my beard out about ten years ago out of necessity; the necessity of me not shaving every damned day. But these new cats, they are doing all kinds of things to their beard to make their beard more friendly to the non-bearded. Weekly trims, usage of beard silkeners, beard softeners, beard butters, fruits and berries, etc. to give their beard a certain luster and softness that doesn’t naturally grow out of your face. I’m opposed to such upkeep. It goes against the very reason to grow a beard, which is to cut time in the mirror to a minimum. The last thing a man with a beard needs to be doing is spending more time maintaining a beard, than he would if he just shaved it off everyday.

The growth of a beard is an act of rebellion. It is a bold step into non-conformity that says, we reject the notions of good grooming and a healthy fashion sense. It says, we are not afraid to walk around with food particles in our beard. It says, we are not afraid scratch the necks of loved ones when we are giving out full throttled masculine affection. It also says, in no uncertain terms YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

But I digress, as a long time beard wearer, I’m not opposed to the trend. The more people that wear beards, means the more people get comfortable with facial hair in the workplace. And the more people get comfortable with facial hair in the workplace, means the closer I get to go to work looking like Bill Cosby in Uptown Saturday night. So, let’s keep up the good work gentlemen, you too beard dandies.

Tough Love (my three sons)

Until recently I had one son.  One son who for better or worse has learned, both directly and indirectly from me what it will mean to be a man.  God bless that boy, because while I don’t consider myself a total bustout, I don’t consider myself a total success either.  Since I was the oldest, my mother and father were not above telling me that they were learning as they went.  I feel like that with my oldest son… and I guess this is both an apology and an explanation.

But that aside, any father with a spine running down his back wants to give his children things to prepare them for this world.  For that matter, any father with a spine running down his back wants to make certain that his son is prepared for this world.  As a father, I want my son(s) to do whatever they want in this world.

I inserted that clip at the top because around the three to four minute mark that father and son have a moment.  It is I guess, the apology and the explanation.

They call it tough love.  If applied properly it can motivate, nurture and teach your child without coddling them.  If applied improperly, it can be hurtful, isolating, and destroy your child’s spirit before you realize the damage you have inflicted.  And knowing that risk, a man will risk the down side of child rearing to separate his own weaknesses from his children.  Recognizing your shortcomings in  your children is frustrating to say the least.  Correcting your shortcomings in your children without damaging them is something like a rebirth of self.  But more importantly it is building your children to be a better whatever it is they want to be.  The family DNA re-engineered and improved upon.  The lesson gets passed on to the next generation, and so on and so on and so on (son).  Money is not what we seek…we just want to be…beautiful and free.

Rolling with Raekwon

As a diehard hip-hop fan and semi-responsible father;  keeping adult content away from the young developing minds of my children is  a job.  Initially I thought radio would offer a safe haven for me but certain songs manage to cross the boundaries of taste without using profanity.  I guess you have to respect somebody who can get their song played on the radio which requests a young lady to expose her naughty bits.  That’s talent. 

When I had more time, I would put together mixes of music that I found enjoyable that were not offensive to my children.  Tapes of instrumentals of hip-hop songs or some jazz that I enjoyed worked while the kids were younger.  I eventually discovered the benefits of NPR without feeling overly nerdy.   This worked for a while, the kids were young enough to listen to what I listened to without knowing how to complain.  Now that they are old enough to determine what songs they like on their own, they come armed with their own cd’s or at least requests to leave it on this station or that one. 

I let my oldest daughter (9yrs old) man the radio with her iPod one day while we were going who knows where.  It was a musical roller coaster ride.  She went for my heart by playing some Metallica,  then she ripped it out when she played Hannah Montana AND the Jonas Brothers.  (sign of things to come I guess)

But every once in a while, I get the minivan to myself.  No requests for food from the kids.  No bickering.  No wife asking to go one place and then another and another trying to spend money.  None of that.  I get to go where I want and play what I want.  Not a big deal for people who don’t really love music.  Also not a big deal for people who love music that has some level of decorum.  It is however, a big deal for people like myself who love crude sometimes profanity laden lyrics over obnoxious beats. (sue me) 

It’s been a while since I’ve dug a legitimate Raekwon verse.  But here he was, not too far into MF Doom’s latest disc spitting semi-coherent Cuban link swag like it was yesterday.  I repeated the song all the way home from work.  Not sure if it was the heatrock the Chef was cooking up lyrically, or that tried and true old school sample from ESG appropriately titled ‘UFO’.  There is something extremely appropriate about a sample titled ‘UFO’ while driving the UFO of the highways.  It’s a good thing though….

I hate you (not really…..)


You.  Not you specifically in the picture (no, your hair was blonde), but somebody like you.  You, with your designer sunshades and (blonde) hair  swirling in the wind in your ‘weekend’ convertible purchased with a good interest rate from the home equity loan.  You were probably going somewhere like Mitchell & Gold to get a new chaise or take your Macbook to get fixed at the Genius Bar or something.  Maybe you were on the way to your ranch, or to Austin or Galveston for the weekend. 

I was on the way to work when I saw you.  I was in the driver’s seat thinking about the first couple of steps from the car door to the front door and how I didn’t want to be that person I needed to be to function at work that day.  Then I saw you, driving your convertible.  I don’t recall you being especially attractive, but the weather was nice and you were driving a convertible (as you are allowed to do) and the shine of the sun and the wind in the hair will make the most mundane looking folks look and feel better than they actually are.  In my mind I might have even made your convertible a tad bit nicer than it was in order to project this notion that I had of you onto you. 

There I was, driving to the plantation.  There you were, driving to the promised land.  You may have been going to the plantation too.  But, in my mind you were going somewhere better than me and because of that I hated you.  Sure it was petty and small and I recognize and acknowledge that I might have been wrong about all of that.  But don’t get it twisted, I still hated you.