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.

My Right Thumb

My right thumb smells like poop, which is odd because I took a shower less than 45 minutes earlier and I haven’t changed a diaper since the shower. I only noticed it while sitting at a red light, I bit my thumb (yes, the right one) out of the anxiety that comes with morning traffic and noticed a familiar scent of stale poop.

I was a confused a bit, because how does one complete a shower with their hands still smelling like poop? Don’t your hands automatically become clean through direct contact with the soap? If you use shower gel, (which I do btw, Dove for Men holla at me for some sponsorship) doesn’t the lather from the loofah clean your hands by proxy? Even still, I’m pretty certain I wash my hands in the shower. Matters not that I can’t recall specifically doing so this morning, I’d like to give myself the benefit of the doubt in this instance.

Personal hygiene aside, I recalled a possible source for the poop smell on my fingers. Before I walked out of the door this morning, I gathered up the latest batch of dirty diapers yet to be thrown out, and threw them in the garbage can outside. Questions possibly running through your mind right now: How old are the triplets right now? Shouldn’t they be potty trained by now? What is your current system of disposing of dirty diapers? All valid questions, and I’ll address only two of them just to spare you the dirty details of diaper disposal in my house.

Right now, the triplets are three years old, and yes they should be potty trained by now. I could say that we’ve actively begun potty training them, but that would only apply if we expanded the definition of potty training to mean putting them in diapers and changing them business as usual. As one half of the parenting unit, I will defer from blaming the other half (which is a useful and favorite tactic of mine) and shoulder the blame for their lack of development in this crucial milestone.

It’s a slight source of shame for me, as I can not tell anyone that my children were potty trained at a young age. Those of you who have kids, or are familiar with the milestone checklist game parents like to play, know that bragging on how early your kids can crawl, walk, talk, feed themselves, run a boston in spades is all a part of making the other parent and their poor child they’ve birthed, wear the proper amount of inferiority when addressing you. I have no status in this arena, my youngest set of children are not yet potty trained.

One of my lovely aunts recently visited our house to drop off some items for Easter. We chatted a bit, discussed several different things, and then she asked whether or not the triplets were potty trained yet. I said no, and made efforts to indicate that poor parenting prevented the kids from this milestone as opposed to the lack of understanding by the trips. This served both as an admission and a move to disarm the possible lecture on why I wasn’t doing more to make the triplets handle their business on the toilet. We laughed about it, and she offered some helpful suggestions: try one at a time, show them potty training videos, some other stuff that I’m sure was great advice but have since forgotten.

Still, spring is here, and the babies were born in August, this ‘just turned three’ business wasn’t a good excuse when it was true. Now, it’s just an unfortunate manifestation of the unique kind of laziness the wife and I have developed over the years, a sorry excuse for a sorry excuse if you can figure out what that means. If this post were a poorly executed metaphor, it would be an emo teenaged suicide attempt, complete with excessive eyeliner and The Cure playing in the background. A cry for help if you will; one of those if you know me (or my wife), and you see me in the streets, ask me how the potty training is going. They say it takes a village…plus, this shit, has got to stop.

Place Holder

I’m only posting this to make sure my blog has at least one post for the month of March. It’s cheating, but whatever; this is another snippet of the essay I wrote in a workshop. Maybe next month.

It was in the literal haze of one cool crisp morning that I found myself touching down at some archipelago of soccer fields right before dawn one Saturday. My oldest daughter and I, were the first ones from our soccer team to arrive. The fluorescent flood lights gave the morning fog a pleasant, but eery effect. There’s something about driving almost an hour to some hick suburb, at the crack of dawn, to watch your daughter play soccer all day with people who were nice enough, but I can barely tolerate, had me questioning all of my life choices.

Laundry Losers

During the course of the day, the goings on of the morning had been reduced to a dulled irritation that had almost been forgotten. The wife and I were on the way to pick up our oldest daughter from basketball practice that evening; and like we always do, we talked about whatever we think is interesting about our day. My contribution to this conversation is a standard “nothing”, which if expanded, would mean that my day was filled with the standard amount of bullshit and stupidity that accompanies a man in my position. My wife, is a bit more forthcoming about the specifics of her day, so my job is just to respond in affirmatively, ask the occasional follow up question and to take her side on any perceived wrong doing that may have been done to her.

So, she’s talking about something or another like she always does, and then asks me “Were you able to dry Raven’s pants this morning?”. It’s an odd question, and out of context, needs a little bit of explanation.

The mornings in our house stay in various states of disarray, confusion, and anxiety; common sense approaches to getting out of the house in the morning in a timely manner are shunned. Taking baths/showers at night, picking out/ironing your clothes, fixing lunches the night before etc., none of that gets done in my house. These offenses are minor, and could be overcome by waking up early enough to get all of these things done in the morning, but again, none of that is happening. As for me personally, I’d like to think that without the hinderance of a wife, and six too many kids, I would be the most punctual person in the world. But that’s neither here nor there.

That morning, as we made our daily scramble to dress ourselves and our children for school, we discovered, with little surprise and yet much vexation, that none of our daughters uniform pants were clean. This is not uncommon in our house, and can be easily resolved with a quick wash/dry before we head out the door. However, our dryer has unofficially quit on us; and by unofficially I mean that it turns on, but does not actually turn up. (the heat) It takes forever to dry a load of clothes, and due to several critical areas lacking, (money, time, will) we have yet to replace the thing. My wife, decided to wash the pants anyway, and give our dryer try anyway, an endeavor I suggested against and was ignored.

My suggestion, was to spot clean the least dirtiest/funny smelling uniform pants (don’t judge me) so we could find so we could keep it moving. The morning schedule is too tight to try and have our geriatric dryer try to handle a quick dry on a pair khaki’s. It was almost 7:00, and the pants weren’t dry yet, but we had to leave to ensure jobs still deposited checks. The wife, in her infinite brilliance, told me to look for some random laundromat, and dry the pants there before I take the daughter to school, an idea I dismiss as pure idiocy. I was immediately irritated, my spot cleaning idea was already better than this.

We leave the house late; and I would be lying if I said that the idea of flying that wet pair of khaki’s out the back window of the minivan like some odd, domesticated freak flag didn’t cross my mind. Instead we drop off the wife, and head towards my daughter’s school. My daughter cons me into getting her breakfast before dropping her off, I consent feeling somewhat responsible for sending her to school in wet pants.

While in the drive thru of Jack in the Box, (a more than adequate breakfast menu btw) I notice a cleaners right next to it. The back door was open, a few employees milling about, and sitting there, in plain view is a shiny looking dryer. I’ll blame it on caffeine deprivation to explain why I thought it was a good idea to walk in there and ask them to throw this semi-wet pair of khaki’s into their dryer for ten minutes. Both the lady picking up her laundry, and the lady behind the counter looked at me like I was crazy when they heard what I was asking.

I’ll admit that my request might have been a little out of the ordinary; but they had a dryer that wasn’t being used at the moment, and considering I was willing to pay up to ten dollars to get this done, I didn’t see the problem. I won’t get into the politics involved of me not having a haircut since October 2012, or that I might have been wearing a stained t-shirt, sweatpants, with flip-flops and socks, because that’s not the point. The point is, I am a man, with a wet pair of khaki’s in one hand, and ten dollars in the other, asking his fellow man (woman in this case) to help dry his daughter’s pants in a time of need, and the best you can do is tell me “We don’t do that heah”.

I was getting angry, and before I gave them the special kind of crazy that only my wife knows, I stepped back and asked the lady if she knew where the nearest laundromat was. There was one down the street she said, before you hit the freeway she said. It was five minutes away, three if we made all of the lights. We made it there in no time, wasn’t crowded at all. The place looked closed, but the hours posted on the door said that they opened at 7:00 a.m. and it was almost 8:00 a.m. There was a number on the door, I called it, just in case they were on the way or something. The phone rang endlessly, they weren’t on the way. Probably still counting all the quarters they ripped off from poor saps like me from the day before. My daughter’s fate was sealed, to school with wet pants she would go. I suggested she ask one of the coaches if they had a dryer on the couch that she could use to dry her clothes. Seemed reasonable, but I later found out the coaches weren’t trying to help me either.

I got angry all over again. Because not only was I not down with this goofy ass plan, but I was gifted the impossible task of completing it. “Hell naw I didn’t get to dry Raven’s pants this morning!”, I say. “Those stupid #@#$%^&**!! at the dry cleaners wouldn’t help me at all! And then I go to the laundromat and they were closed! Matter of fact….” I pulled out my phone and went to retrieve the number of the laundromat I called earlier that day. My wife looks at me with a bit of bewilderment while I hit re-dial on the laundromat’s number. “Who are you calling?” she asks, I hold up my hand while waiting for the phone to be picked up. It rings a few times, and they finally answer.

I hadn’t planned this far ahead, so I just kind of blurted out “What time do you guys open in the morning?” I didn’t wait for them to answer before I told them what their hours said on the door. “The door says you’re open at 7:00 am! Me and three other people were waiting to go in and spend some money this morning! Why wasn’t anyone there?”

The lady proceeds to tell me that they normally open at 9:00 am and that the hours are incorrect. “Well you need to update your hours immediately, because there’s no reason that you should have posted hours and not honor them!”. They didn’t care what I had to say, I was too angry to put together coherent complaints, and not angry enough to curse them out like I felt like they deserved. When it was over, my wife was laughing at the rambling, incoherent, idiot I was, which made me laugh too. What I just did was too ridiculous for words, and even though I know the person on the receiving end of that call gave less than two shits about what I just told them, I felt better having said it, and that was all that mattered.

Ready. Set…

In an attempt to challenge myself, I joined a personal essay writing workshop through Inprint last month. (which may or may not improve my writing) While I have been writing more, I haven’t been updating the blog like I want. Anyway, I wrote a piece on the concept of the mid-life crisis last week. I’m posting another tiny bit of it here (since I already posted some of it on Monday) that wasn’t totally ripped apart.

I’m still taking in suggestions from the teacher and class, and revising it as we speak. (may post later) But for now I’m cheating, and getting my two post a week requirement out of the way.

Maybe I would feel different about it, if there were fewer things on my life’s to do list that were already scratched off. First, I would need to come up with an actual to do list of things I wanted to do before I could start scratching things off. All of a sudden there was a tug in my belly, telling me that time was quickly running out.

Running out of time, that’s the spark isn’t it? It’s like realizing that the starters pistol that sounded when your mother birthed you into this world, is just now being heard thirty-five, forty, forty-five years later. You look down at your feet and see them still in the starting blocks, that thin crack in the sky has finally triggered a response, and your muscles won’t move as quickly as they used to, but your mind does, and boy does it go.

good kid, bAAdass minivan

An American Icon


A few weeks ago, rap wunderkind, Kendrick Lamar released his highly anticipated album, good kid mAAd city, to much applause. I too join in the chorus of music critics, hipsters, internet dorks, bandwagoners and anyone else who sings this albums praise.

But more importantly, the deluxe edition of this album features some deluxe artwork; a Polaroid styled photograph of either a third or fourth generation Dodge Caravan. Upon closer inspection, the rims on this vehicle are consistent with the Chrysler version of the Caravan, the swankier and more stylish, Town and Country.

Too many reasons why a young G would want to roll through the streets of Compton in a minivan. The fold down seats make it easy to set the mood for young ladies willing to do things while parked in front of the Pacific Ocean. The sliding doors ease the ingress/egress of family members while loading up the fam for church, or if one needs to let off a few rounds to avenge one of the homies, again, sliding doors people. Not to mention plenty of storage space behind the back row of seats, perfect for hauling groceries, football equipment, and assorted weaponry and contraband.

Not since Wu-Tang Clan shouted out the Mazda MPV in their classic Can It All Be So Simple, has a minivan been so prominently featured in hip-hop, and we wanted to thank Kendrick Lamar for bringing the minivan back to its well deserved glory.

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.

The Minivan vs The SUV

A few months ago, my youngest brother invited us to the City of San Antonio for Easter weekend. I hesitated, not because I think that San Antonio is one of the dullest cities in Texas, but because when we roll, we roll deep. Eight deep to be exact; which includes three two-year olds, a teenager, a tweenager, an autistic ten year old, and two slightly immature adults. The stress of that much family in one spot can lead to the kind of resentment that can cause a family rift for years.

That aside, we decided to head up I-10 and visit my brother and his family for a change of pace. We needed a rental though. The minivan (or the Famboghini as I like to call it), as awesome as it is, is the primary vehicle in this family; and as the primary vehicle, it logs some hard miles, with going to work, soccer practice, guitar practice, random recitals, grocery runs, park trips, late night take out runs, etc., you get the picture.

So the only vehicle advertised, that could accommodate eight passengers was an SUV. Obviously, my preference for the minivan had to be set aside, in order to rent a vehicle that would seat all of eight of us safely. Against better judgement, we rented a Yukon Denali to help us with our travels.

Walking up on the vehicle in the rental parking lot, I have to admit, the white color, the newness of it all, kind of had me crushing a little bit. It looked pretty good, and while the minivan lacks any kind of pretense, the SUV has enough style that it might fool the casual onlooker that the driver of that vehicle is not some poor soul driving his tribe of hellions from their weekly ritual of James Coney Island’s Kids Eat Free Wednesdays.

I drove it home and played with all of the dials and switches on the way. I changed the satellite radio stations, turned up the volume, and became infatuated with all of the new technology this monstrosity of a thing offered. I pulled it into the driveway and found myself feeling something…dare I say cool? Upon seeing what we rented, the older two children suggested we trade in the minivan and buy something like to this. The suggestion, I’m embarrassed to admit, crossed my mind.

It was time to load up, but the trunk space, however, left something to be desired. The third row in an SUV takes up prime storage space, and when it came time to load all of our bags, I had to get creative to ensure all of our bags fit, an issue that wouldn’t happen in the minivan. The ingress and egress of passengers was a bit more difficult than the minivan too. You have to fold down part of the second row to let third row passengers in, once the third row passengers are seated, then you allow the second row passengers in so that they can get buckled in. There’s no cool automatic sliding doors, or walking to your seats and buckling in like civilized human beings; in an SUV, you have to climb over seats, hope you don’t lose your balance, and then wage war with assorted seat straps to ensure safety.

We hit I-10 and made our way towards San Antonio. Driving a huge truck or an SUV, is not fun. The acceleration is meh, the handling is bleh, and parking one of these things is just a pain in the ass. Sure, this thing might be fun off road somewhere, but I live in the city, and the only reason I need to drive an eight passenger anything this big, is when I’m tearing through the countryside armed to the teeth heading to a safe zone during the zombie apocalypse.

I’ll give you this, the SUV almost had me with all of its semi-sexy styling, shiny gadgetry and new fangled technology, but in the end, the pragmatism and awesomeness of the minivan conquers all.

The Vanifesto

First off, I didn’t write this, Drew Magary of GQ did, but never have I read an article that highlighted both the struggle and awesomeness of owning a minivan. Here’s a rip of his Vanifesto from the article:

☐ Make Sure the Foldaway Third Row is Easy to Fold Away
Car salesmen make this look very simple, because they do it every day and thus have developed superhuman foldaway strength. Your first attempt will not be so effortless. Make sure your old lady is using the can when you try so that she can’t see you struggle.

☐ Don’t Pay a Ton More for the Built-In DVD Player.
A 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE costs roughly $5,000 more than a more basic model. And really, all you’re paying for is a DVD player to shut your kids up on long trips. Buy the lesser model, then spring for a dual-screen Philips car DVD player, which costs just over a hundred bucks and can be mounted on the headrest. Or be a douchebag parent and buy your kid an iPad.

☐ Check the Latch System for Installing the Car Seats.
Sometimes the little metal loop buried within the crease of the backseat is hard to reach. This will result in hours of you wincing in pain and screaming “FUCK!” in your driveway while trying to get your Britax car seat in. Bring it to the dealer and install it during a test-drive to make sure it goes in easy.

☐ Take Your Kid On a Test Drive.
It’ll give you the sneak preview of what your life is about to become. The downside: Your child will demand you buy every van you test-drive. They aren’t picky at all about that shit.

☐ Manual Sliding Doors Are for Chumps.
Go power sliding doors all the way. I will never get tired of pushing that button. It makes me feel like a space-limo driver.

Read More http://www.gq.com/news-politics/mens-lives/201204/buying-minivan-men-masculinity-gq-april-2012#ixzz1zHl67IT1

Not So Prompt Thoughts on Father’s Day

Let’s be honest, as made up Parent Appreciation Days go, Mother’s Day wins. It’s got the pageantry, the church services, the bourgeois brunches and all the assorted emotional fanfare that comes with making something totally made up successful. Not to mention, the mothers have better songs: The Intruders “I’ll Always Love My Mama”, Boyz II Men, “A Song For Mama”, even Tupac’s (even though you was a crack fieeeeeend mama) “Dear Mama” are all iconic songs dedicated to mothers. What’s the first song that comes to mind when you think about fathers? The Temptations “Papa Was a Rolling Stone, in the chorus, the mother laments his death and all of the loneliness he bequeathed them. Wtf? I won’t even get into the whole single mother shout out’s that happen on Father’s Day, I want to keep this post classy.

Honestly, I don’t think father’s care too much. We recognize that Father’s Day was a political move done to give us parity on the parent appreciation front, and we appreciate that, but in the end, we recognize the day is an afterthought, the Hallmark of equivalent of ‘oh yeah you guys too’. It’s cool, because as I took in all of the adulation via text message for having unprotected sex with my wife a few times too many, I started to think, you know what would really show some fatherly appreciation? Not cards, not Facebook posts, or gift sets or whatever, but what would really show some appreciation would be if the wife got all of the kids dressed, packed them in the minivan and left the house all day. Basically, remove all reminders of fatherhood, and let me forget what it means to be responsible for sheltering, feeding and clothing my own progeny. I think that would be kinda awesome, right?