Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just Do It

My 13-year old daughter has a dance competition later today.
She had one yesterday too.
She has one next week as well.
I missed yesterday’s event because my two younger kids each had basketball games.
I was going to miss today’s event too.
That’s because the tickets are $10.
For me.
And $5 for each of the kids.

My wife is the team mom, so at least the family would be represented.
And next week the group will doing the same exact dance.
For free.

So the plan to miss today’s event made perfect cents to me when my wife and I discussed it a few days ago.
It didn’t make nearly as much sense this morning.
I was going to miss my daughter’s dance for $20?
I was going to sit at home and watch the Pro Bowl Pregame show instead of watching my daughter?
For what reason?
I’m certainly not suggesting that $20 is nothing.
In fact, at Applebees, it can buy you one appetizer and two entrees.
But the Riblet Basket only stays with you for three or four hours.
Watching your child smile lasts... at least a day.
So I informed my wife and my 13-year old that we would be attending today’s event.
And that was final.
When they asked why.
I replied, “what if I’m not here next week?”
The room went silent.
And if you know my family, that is no small feat.
Now I’m not trying to go all Nostradamus on you or anything like that.
But based on the reaction my wife and daughter had, you would’ve thought my magic eight ball had gone all black.
I certainly wasn’t suggesting that some evil force is going to take over the world.
Or take over my existence.
But who knows.
Not me.
And not you.
But what I do know is that I have no plans from 5:00-6:00 tonight.
Well, had no plans.
So there was absolutely no good reason why I couldn’t watch my daughter dance.
Thankfully I don’t need to sweat out the $20.
Not yet.
But even if I did, is there a better way to use that money than watching your child follow her dream?
(Well, the Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine does look tempting.)

I can remember a situation about nine years ago when my wife and I had dinner with my dad and his wife.
McCormick and Schmicks.
I never forget a meal.
Well at that meal the subject of Notre Dame Football came up.
As you may recall, I love Notre Dame Football.
Well my dad, who lived his dream working with sports teams for 40+ years, had never been to South Bend, Indiana.
The home of Notre Dame.
And he loved big events.
The Super Bowl.
All-Star Games.
Yankee Stadium.
And when it comes to college football, there is nothing bigger than Notre Dame.
(Hey this is my blog.   Therefore, my opinion.)
So I said to him, “why don’t we go back to Notre Dame for a game?”
“One of these years,” he said.
“What do you mean one of these years?   Let’s go now.”
So that October.
October 20th, to be exact.
My dad and I were back in South Bend.
To see the Fighting Irish face USC and those hated Trojans.
No bigger game in college football.
At least not for me.
And not for us.
We went a day early.
To be at the pep rally.
We walked around the campus.
Got to the stadium before kickoff.
And enjoyed the greatest game of all-time.
Well, maybe not all-time.

Although Notre Dame did win 27-16.
But it was a father/son weekend like no other.
And no other we would ever have again.
Eight months later he was gone.
A massive heart attack.
He didn’t even make it to the next college football season.
It’s a good thing we went when we did.
Now I’m not in the advice business.
Never have been.
But do yourself a favor and take a close look at that “To Do List”.
See if there is something you can do.

I’ll be watching my daughter dance.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fable Of My Deconstruction

“If I could lift my leg right now, I’d kick your....”
Well you can guess the rest.
Those were my exact words for my personal trainer after yesterday’s 45-minute session of muscular masochistic misery.
Now before you think I’m hangin with the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
There is no MY personal trainer.

But what I do have is three free sessions with 
A personal trainer.
That came with my month-to-month membership at a local gym.
A membership that costs me $50/month.
And is worth every penny.
Especially when you get free stuff.
And the philosophy of this club is to give a free sample of extra attention.
So that I get addicted.
And then I will start paying to feed that addiction.
Hey, why not.
It works for drug dealers.
And it works for Costco. 
Of course, if they charged me even one of those pennies for a personal trainer, I probably would’ve passed.
But it was free.
And who can turn down free?
Not me.
So as part of this new personal training mission, they had me take a series of tests to determine my physical well being.
And to make sure I didn’t expire during an ab crunch.
The tests were quick.
And simple.
A little treadmill.
Pull on this weight.
Reach as far as you can.
The results are in.
And congratulations Sir.
You have the body of a 44-year old.
Not bad.
I suppose.
Considering I am 43.

And will be 44 in a few months.
But honestly, I would’ve hoped for a little better.
I don’t feel a day over 41.
But wait, there’s more.
At no extra charge, you get a five-page analysis of the test results.
And with that analysis, comes a dangling carrot on the last page.
IF I can improve my “sit and reach flexibility” by 2.5 inches, I would improve my body age by two years.
And IF I  my can improve my body composition by 8%, I would improve my body age by five more years.
And IF I can improve my bicep strength by 14 pounds, I would improve my body age by two more years.
And IF I can improve my cardiovascular VO2 score from 39.7 ml/kg-min to 47 ml/kg-min.
Whatever that means.
I would improve my body age by three more years.
44, minus two minus five minus two minus three.
So if I buy a couple of months of personal training sessions... body age will be like negative 16.
By April?
Where do I sign?
Well I signed on the computer that’s where I signed.
For the first of three free sessions.
What do I have to lose?
Except a couple of pounds.
And what’s left of my dignity.
My personal trainer showed up at noon, right on time.
He had less body fat than one of those Old Navy mannequins.
And he took me to a part of the gym that I’ve never seen before.
I knew immediately I was in trouble.
About 12 seconds in, I was sweating more than Mel Gibson at a Passover Seder.
This guy had me doing lunges.
And leg lifts.
Push ups.
And squats.
Plus he introduced me to a bunch of new places.
The Roman Chair.
The Russian Kettlebell.
The Bosu Balance Trainer.
By this point, I was praying this torture would take an immediate detour.
To The Dairy Queen.
But every step of the way, this guy was giving me all of the  encouragement any out of shape 43-year old could hope for.
“Come on you fat f***,  just 73 more.”
Ok, that may not be an exact quote. 
But when you are literally one exhale away from passing out, “just two more” sounds like 73.
He must’ve asked me 40 times if I needed water.
And I must’ve answered 40 times.
"Huh?   What?"
Finally after 45-minutes, which felt like 45 days, this mercifully came to an end.
I used what little strength I had left to shake the man’s hand.

A man who had just tried to kill me.
But he wasn't done there.
It was then he reminded me of the two sessions I had left.
The two FREE sessions I had left.

Who could pass up a deal like that?

Not me.

Round 2 is on Monday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Breakfast With The Beatles

My seven-year old daughter was sick yesterday.
So she stayed home from school.
Poor girl.
Lucky me.
I got to make her breakfast.
Something we call an Egg Surprise.
That’s when you cut a hole in a piece of bread.
Throw it in a pan.
Drop an egg inside the hole.
Egg white in this case.
And fry it up.
And when you bite the bread.
It tastes like an omelette.
Well kinda sorta.
After that we took a 90-minute nap together.
We read books together.
We laughed and sang together.
It was a perfect morning.
So perfect, that at one point, I just started mumbling the words to “I Feel Fine.”
By The Beatles.
It was the line, “I’m so glad, that she’s my little girl.”
That made her smile.
Which made me smile.
While my rendition of the song was pretty darn good, if I must say so myself.
It definitely wasn’t even better than the real thing.
So I went on youtube to show her what the song is really supposed to sound like.
I typed in... “I Feel Fine” and “The Beatles”.
And in half a second I found “about 4,180 results”.
About 4,180?
Either it is or it isn’t, right?
Anywhoo... we had more versions of that song than Microsoft has versions of Windows.
I had a live version from the classic Shea Stadium concert.

Another live one from Japan.
A piano cover.
A version by The Supremes.
A version without vocals.

And then with vocals.
A guitar lesson on how to play the song.
And about 4,174 others.
God Bless youtube.
And God Bless The Beatles.
I certainly couldn’t stop there.
We listened to one of my all-time faves, Oh Darling.
Real Love.
And a handful of others.
Including “Here Comes The Sun.”
A song she recognized.
“Hey, that’s from The Bee Movie,” she said.
A movie released in 2007.
38 years after The Beatles released the original.
It was cool watching her play air guitar.
Better than I play the real guitar.
And air drums.
Not quite like Ringo.
One thing that was really neat about the youtube videos was all the old pictures of the Fab Four.
I got to tell her about Sgt. Pepper.
And Ed Sullivan.
And the album cover from Abbey Road.
Actually she knew that one.
“That picture is hanging in my teacher’s room.”
Cool teacher.
She wanted to know the four names of these lads.
So I told her.
And then quizzed her on who was who.
My version of home schooling.
She didn’t do so well.
I think the matching mop tops and ever-changing facial hair threw her off.
With all of the black and white photos, she asked if all four guys were still alive.
That’s when the conversation changed.
I explained that Paul and Ringo are still with us.
And that George died from smoking cigarettes.
Maybe not 100% accurate, but close enough for a seven-year old.
And another good home lesson.
Then came the story of John Lennon.
I shared the details with her.
Keeping it as simple as possible.
But she kept asking.
And I kept answering.
As simple as I could.
And in the same way it didn’t make sense to this 13-year old boy on December 8, 1980.
It didn’t make sense to his seven-year old daughter.
30 plus years later.
I was eventually able to change the subject.
By playing her some of John’s solo stuff.
Including a little ditty called “Beautiful Boy”.
A beautiful song John wrote for his son five-year old son Sean.
Within a few lines, my daughter started singing along.
It’s a simple song.
But very touching.
For the last verse, she changed the lyrics.
To Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful.... 
Beautiful Dad.
I’m so glad that she's my little girl.