Friday, June 27, 2014

Are You Ready for Some FĂștbol?

“Are you ready for some football?” is a line shouted out by Hank Williams Jr. in the opening moments of ABC’s Monday Night Football. This is not the football of the entire rest of the world; it is American Football. This line came to mind as I watched a bit of the World Cup soccer tournament being broadcast from Brazil.

American Football is a strange thing. First, it has little to do with feet. There are eleven men per team on the field at each time. They crash into each other and try to tackle whomever is holding the ball, and by ball, I mean an eggy shaped thing with pointy ends. It looks nothing like a ball at all. In fact it seems like it would be better to call American Football, Clash of the Titans, or Battle of the Brutes, or at least Pointy Eggy Ball.

Soccer and American football have the same number of players on the field at the same time and that is where all similarities cease. Soccer players are quick and nimble as they move the ball, which has a classic ball shape—round-down the field. Their rapid footwork has the grace and elegance of a ballet dancer. Despite commentators descriptions of American Football’s running backs quickness and nimbleness, they are nothing in comparison to the average soccer player.

I have watched many live games of soccer. I must confess that most of my time spectating has been of little people on a small field. And by little people I mean those of the 5 to 7 year old flavor. These are the games that are most awesome to watch.

You can always tell where the ball is by the gaggle of youngsters chasing it down the field. As it approaches the goal, you can hear the coaches of both teams, the parents and grandparents on both sides of the field yelling...yelling to the goalie, who has found the most delightful specimen of dandelion growing behind the goal and is examining the flower with every ounce of energy.

The goalie refocuses on the game: the gaggle of ball chasing youngsters close in on the goal, and then someone kicks the ball hard.

It doesn’t matter where the ball is kicked. The reactions are the same, one group of parents sigh and moan disappointedly, the other group cheers excitedly. Amongst the best of parents, these reactions last for a brief moment, until both sets of parents shout words of encouragement and the good coaches announce the score of “Fun to Fun”.

Alright, so my description sounds too good to be true, but, at least with little tyke soccer if one player bites another, it can truly be said, “they are just children”.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Loony Linguistics of Teenspeak

Out of the five people in our household, I am the lone male. We once had a guinea pig that was a male and that helped, but he no longer lives with us. Honestly, he no longer lives at all. That leaves me as the only male in my house.

This has some decided benefits. Firstly, I am spoiled, by my wife and each of my daughters. They can cook and I can eat. This makes for a wonderful dynamic at home. Secondly, although I have taught my daughters how to use tools, and they are not afraid to use them, they don’t normally use them. This is a mixed blessing. That six-sided 1/2 inch socket that I need is right where I left it. Unfortunately, it is right where I left it, which is not where it should be. I have no idea where it is, and I have no one to blame, but myself.

My three daughters are on the cusp of adulthood, which means they range from mid to late teens. Next month, eldest will turn 20, and that is an encouragement to me, since it is common knowledge that once a person turns 20, they immediately become a mature adult.

One of the interesting things I have noticed about teenagers is their desire to invent new things. This is nowhere more evident than in their language. My daughters have mastered the art of taking texting short hand and speaking it out loud, at break neck speed, so that the end result is incomprehensible and goes something like this when I try to figure out what my daughter said. “Did you say ‘Hottentots are falling from the sky?” “No Dad, I asked if you wanted me to blot that dry.”

Teenagers also redefine words. My daughters love using the word ‘feel’ to describe an actual fact. For instance, they might say, “I feel like the sum of the squares of each leg of a right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse.” I reply, “That is not a matter of emotion, it is a statement of fact, you just defined the Pythagorean Theorem.” The response from them would be, “Dad, I feel like you are mocking me.”

I feel an eye roll coming on.

Teens have also redefined the word ‘literally’. To them it now means figuratively, which is just the opposite of literally. Middlest recently announced, “I literally just died!”

I raised my hands in the air and imitated a television preacher, “Hallelujah, we have witnessed a miracle. This girl was dead...but now she is ALIVE!”

I feel like she literally rolled her eyes at me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Do You Have a Pioneer Spirit?

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t write a blog post last week. It was a bad week. The lawnmower broke, the clothes dryer broke, and I worked extra shifts driving bus.

While driving the bus, I overheard a conversation between a driver and the head mechanic. The driver called the garage and said, “Hey, I am driving this spare bus and I think a horse drawn carriage would drive better than this bus. Will my regular bus be ready soon?”

The garage mechanic replied that the regular bus would be done and if it was not done, he would make sure to “upgrade the spare bus to a horse drawn carriage”.

This gave me hope. After all, our ancestors survived when things were much tougher. There were no buses, no lawnmowers, and clothes only dried if you hung them on a line and let them air dry.

But if they didn’t have lawnmowers, how did they keep their yards from turning into hayfields? I believe I have the answer and decided to propose it to my wife.

Over evening coffee, Beloved was trying to plan out the next week’s meals, along with scheduling trips to take our dirty clothes to her parents to wash and dry. By the way, my in-laws are awesomesauce, and I am not just saying that because I have clean clothes. I am saying that because they are.

Waiting for just the right moment, which was when my wife took a breath, I sprung my idea on her. “What if we didn’t replace the lawnmower and simply bought sheep instead. They would keep the grass down.”

She replied, “The town won’t let us have sheep and our neighbors probably wouldn’t like the noise and the smell.”

“We could shear the sheep and you could knit fine wool hats that we could give to our neighbors. Then they would be happy and have warm ears.”

“I don’t know how to knit hats. We are not getting sheep. Now let me figure out dinner for next week.”

She diligently worked out a fine menu for the next week’s meals. Until I interrupted again. “What about goats?”“

“Goats? Seriously?”

“Yes goats. We could make cheese from the milk and that would help with dinner. You do know how to milk a goat, right?”

“No, I do not know how to milk a goat. We are not getting goats. The town won’t let us have them anyway.”

The flame of the pioneer spirit that once burned bright and hot within my soul was quickly being snuffed out and had been reduced to a smoldering ember. Undeterred, I gave it one last try and suggested, “Why don’t we just dry our clothes outside on the clothes line?”

Beloved shot me a look. You know that look. The look I wrote about a couple weeks ago. She very firmly responded, “Absolutely not.”

“But why?” I asked.

“Stop being silly. It is obvious that if we hung the clothes outside, the goats would pull them all off the line and eat them.”

Needless to say, we bought a new lawnmower and have scheduled a repairman to look at the dryer. Even if I think it is a baad idea.