Follow by Email

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Said It a Million Times

Thirty hours, round trip.

My grandma will be 98 this year. Can't say no, even if we spend more time in the car than plowing through turkey. She's as lucid as most 20 year olds. No hearing aid. Her knee doesn't bend but she could still make a Marine jump. 

And the topper: she still lives in her two-story house. No AC. Sleeps upstairs.

The most lucid 97 year old you'll ever meet. And a bored 18 year old  behind her.
Road trips aren't as difficult, now that our kids are older. The earbuds go in and its me and my wife and the endless road. My son is 18. My daughter, almost 15. We've always had a no cussing rule in our house. I try to forget what I was doing at their age, and we didn't have YouTube. We didn't have porn at our fingertips or movie torrents or music downloaders. We still found trouble.

I'm not naive. They know what's what.

This trip, I announce, you can cuss. The deal's only good until the trip is over.

My daughter says, Really?

Yeah. But no f-word. I'm not ready for that, but you can say--

Shit. Piss. Ass. She says it, laughing. Says it like those words are not strangers to her tongue.

Eating sack lunch behind a gas station. May as well cuss.
We eat Thanksgiving dinner with my 97 year old grandmother. We kiss her on the cheek with our curse-word-fouled lips. We talk to her about growing up, about when she met grandpa, about what it was like in the Depression. We see all our family and laugh and hug and not a dirty word leaves our mouths.

After 29 hours in the car -- our butts numbs and heads dull with boredom -- we're 1 hour from home, switching stations until we land on a song. My daughter announces from the back seat. 

I've got 1 hour, she says. So turn that shit up.

I've said it a million times. I love my family.


Monday, November 12, 2012


It's 60-degrees in Charleston, South Carolina. In other words, IT'S FREEZING.

I'm a wuss when it comes to cold, but compared to Charleston natives I'm Jack-freaking-Frost. When the mercury drops below 70, folks break out coats, gloves, snowshoes, propane heaters.

But real cold hurts.

Champaign, Illinois, 1994. It's -22-degrees. That's minus. My wife are sitting in our basement apartment, watching Cheers. Someone turns on the shower. In the kitchen. It takes a second... shower?

Water, blowing out of the wall.

Call the super. No answer. Look for water meter while kitchen floods. Looking, looking, looking, looking, looking, looking, looking, looking, looking...

30 minutes later, anything I find that remotely looks like a meter is getting shut off. I mean anything. I throw the wrench on the meters outside, my buddy Dave says, "I don't think--"


They aren't water meters.

Winter in Charleston really sucks.
Eventually, we find the water meter on the other side of the building beneath a staircase. The apartment is flooded but the water is off. So is the gas. And it's still -22-degrees. That means everyone's furnace is out. They have no idea.

We go door to door. Hey, hi... cold night tonight, right? By the way, something crazy happened and all the pilot lights went out and we're just here to help you light it. You know, so you and your family don't freeze to death. 

We were thanked. Profusely. Even got cookies.

The next morning, my wife and I discovered she was pregnant.