Tuesday, November 21, 2023

A love letter to you, at seven

 "You're gonna make a great dad someday."

That sentiment was expressed numerous times to me throughout my prodigiously extended bachelorhood. I'm not sure why.  What did they see in me?  Was it my mind-of-a-12-year-old sense of humor?  My affinity for Alan Thicke as TV-dad Doctor Jason Seaver?  The fact I was still playing video games well into my forties?  That I got/get along far better with kids and animals than I did/do any adult?

Yeah, probably the Alan Thicke thing.

Truth is, they couldn't know.  I sure didn't.  I still don't.

But what I can say is that from day one -- like literally, your first day off the big Umbi -- the moment you peed in my face the very first time I changed your diaper, I have loved you.  Before then even, before we even knew if you'd be a boy or girl.  Maybe even before you existed if that is possible.

I have loved you the very best I know how, like I had never loved a thing or person before.  Yes, Sunshine came close.  But I don't have to worry about her inheriting my introversion, crippling anxiety, or Peter Pan syndrome.  Explain to her why she has to do lockdown drills at school.  Or worry about her not making friends with other cats.

Is she eating too many Pop Tarts?  Why have I still not signed her up for swim lessons?  Am I spending too much time with her?  Not enough time?  Am I pushing her too hard in her in her first year playing organized basketball?  (I use the word "organized" very loosely.)  Or am I not pushing hard enough?

And I don't have to worry about some teacher putting her on the wrong bus on the first day of school!

It was the first time you ever rode a bus, when you weren't even supposed to ride the bus at all.  Your mother called me in a panic saying, "They've lost Luke!" after your teacher said she mistakenly put you on the bus.  She then rushed back home hoping to get there before the bus did and minimize the damage, only to have that bus driver stop and tell her you weren't on his bus -- the bus driver who knew who you were even though you had never ridden a bus because of the countless times you'd stand out in the yard and wave as the bus went by in the mornings.  I left work immediately, rushing home and driving around town to try and find you to no avail.  Your mom called the school and was told you were safe but they couldn't drop you off until the end of the route!

Deep breath.  

(Apparently I should have scheduled a therapy session for this.)

I won't ever forget seeing you stepping off that bus, a full hour after you should have been home, doing everything your six-year-old little self possibly could to hold it together.  I walked you inside.  You went straight to your bedroom and locked the door.  And I cannot explain the godawful feelings I felt, knowing the whole time I couldn't begin to know how you felt.

If you never ride a bus again, I will understand.

I suppose some of this parenting thing is instinctive.  God-given.  A lot is probably learned from your own parents, some by watching other parents.  What to do, and sometimes it seems to me even more commonly, what not to do.  But way too much of it (for my worrisome heart) is trial and error.  

One day, perhaps you will read or learn something about the pandemic of 2020.  Assuming, that is, all the books have not been burned by then.  (If you're reading this in 2040, just Google "DeSantis.")  There was no playbook for parenting through that.  Your Mom and I tried to make the best decisions we could based on the information we had and what your doctors told us.

Sometimes that is all you can do.  

This was supposed to be a post about you.  About you turning seven.  About your recent and unforced (I swear!) love of football, and how every day when we get home we rush outside to use up the waning moments of daylight practicing on the football field we lined out of marking paint in the backyard.  

About how you watch entire Bama games with me, your many questions interspersed with your ever-so-excited commentary, such as:  "Ooo, Daddy!  A false start!"  Or "Ooo, he just punted it!"  Or my favorite, the unprompted, "Go!  Go!  Go!  Yeaaaah!!" whenever Alabama makes a big play.

About how when I am mowing the yard, you are walking along right behind me pushing your toy mower, sometimes even carrying a pair of scissors with you so that you can cut some blades of grass for real because Dad was unable to find or build a mower that would actually cut without significantly endangering your appendages.

About your air traffic controller Halloween costume and how you have to "direct" us out of the driveway anytime we go somewhere now, always ending by coming up to the driver's window and saying, "I'm gonna hop in now" before sauntering around and climbing into your booster seat.  As if we thought you were just gonna chill at the house by yourself.

About what an awesome big brother you are to Harper.  How you walked over to her and leaned your head over to give her a "hug" the very first time you met her, and how that is still how you give hugs today -- leaning in, very little arms involved.

About how she can hit you or take something away from you, but as soon as I get on to her, you suddenly turn into her high-priced defense attorney, whispering, "Daddy, maybe we don't have to take away all her dolls.  Maybe we can just take away one... for one hour."  (Insert facepalm emoji.)

Truth is, buddy, if I am at all a decent dad, it is because you make it so easy.  You are kind, respectful, funny, and way too smart for my own good.

I'm not sure there are words able to convey the pure joy you bring into our lives every single day.  But I hope they can at least convey some of the love I feel for you.

So I'm writing them down, so that I won't forget.  And maybe even so you will find these pages some faraway day and be able to smile as you read about some of these storybook moments.

And don't worry, I'll fill you in all about Alan Thicke someday.  Probably after you finish listening to the One Thousand Selected Songs You Should Know playlist which I will give you when you turn seventeen.  And we have re-watched every one of Alabama's national championship victories.

I love you, Lukie.  Looking forward to practice this afternoon.

Oh, and by the way, I have a feeling you're gonna be an amazing dad someday.



Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Man disillusioned to find out not everything about stripper is real

 (Courtesy of fakeonion.net)

Anderson, IN ~ A 43-year-old Indiana man says he is now "questioning everything" after finding out his favorite stripper, K8ie Texxass, has been using a stage name.  Danny Money, who says he is a risk management analyst from nearby Indianapolis, has been coming to The Pole Barn gentleman's club for the better part of two decades.

"I've never had anything like this happen," a still shaken Money said before rattling off a list of his previous favorites.  "I mean, Honey Wails, Misty Reign, Lauren Boobert -- they were real.  Nothing about them was fake.  You felt like you knew these girls.  You became friends with them.  At least until they graduated college or... got remarried."

Money reportedly made the discovery when the stripper's ID fell out of her purse.  "Yeah, it just fell right out!  I definitely wasn't looking through her purse or anything."

When asked if the exotic spelling of the name didn't give him pause, Money shrugged, "I figured it was like a self-fulfilling prophecy or something."

Now he knows "K8ie Texxass" is really Brooke Delashaw.  "And she ain't even from Texas," complained Money. "She's from flippin' Muncie!"

When reached for comment, Ms. Delashaw said she no longer works for the club, stating she quit due to "that creepy guy who kept telling me he was Eddie Money's brother and he wanted to take me home tonight.  Is that supposed to impress me?  Who the heck is Eddie Money"!

Money later told us he was unsure if he'd even continue coming to the club every Thursday night.  However, it appears he may have just been letting off a little steam, as a witness claims to have seen him the very next week at the nearby A&W, getting change for a twenty.  

Meantime, another dancer at The Pole Barn, Jill Lishous, reports that Money had only very recently started casting suspicious glances in her direction.

Editor's Note: After a quick search of credit card receipts and social media accounts, it was determined that Danny Money's real name is Edward Quattlebaum.  He is a painter apprentice, from Markleville,

Friday, September 22, 2023

alison's house

Used to play cards at Alison's house late at nights
Never felt like I was missing out on the city lights
'Cause her innocence was pure
And her brown eyes seemed a cure
For anything that was ailing me or anything that might

We were young and we were free
It was nineteen ninety-three
And I's always told the years will go
So much faster than you can believe

But I did not believe...

Used to drive by Alison's house to see if she's home
Sometimes I'd stop and see her, sometimes I'd drive on
'Cause when you're young and when you're not
Always don't know what you got
Until someday you're years away and she's all gone

We were young and we were free
It was nineteen ninety-three
And I's always told the years will go
So much faster than you can believe

I'm starting to believe...

I drove out by Alison's house last Saturday
Don't think I'd been past it since her momma passed away
It looks just like it did then
And as the shivers flew down my skin
I wished to God I could stop and see her one more time again

We were young and we were free
It was nineteen ninety-three
And I's always told the years will go
So much faster than you can believe

It's still so hard to believe...

Friday, September 01, 2023


Do you remember a two-lane road through the national forest at 3 in the morning
Cleaning out the bed of your truck, dumping on the county road
The summer wind, the cool creek on our skin when we finally made the falls
Didn't have any clue back then we were cleaning out our souls

Do you remember basketball in your momma's yard in the summertime moonlight
Or cheap vodka straight and video games late nights after we moved out
The first time I drove a stick was in your blue and silver old Ford Ranger
Nineties country blarin' on the radio as I was burnin' that clutch plumb out

Years they only vanish, little truths you come to learn
Like time ain't no friend of mine, but friend, you damn sure were
Now you're up there and we're still here, no longer anything close to young
But as long as I can see us in my mind, we'll always be twenty-some

Do you remember bottle rocket wars on July 4th, and cutthroat pool on weekends
Coming to pick us up when we got stuck in the mud out in Lagrange at 4 AM
Seemed like we were forever searching for something that never quite could be found
All the while it was right in front of us is what I'm only realizing now

Did you really take that money, if you'd have asked I would have helped you out
He could never trust you after that, but I hope in time you felt forgiven
I wish you could see my kids 'cause I can picture you making them laugh
Wish I'd come to see you when you got sick, and I wish you were still living

Years they only vanish, and certain truths you come to learn
Like time ain't no friend of mine, but friend, you damn sure were
Now you're up there and we're still here, no longer anything close to young
But as long as I can see us in my mind, we'll always be twenty-some

Monday, December 12, 2022

Once you were six years old

"What hast thou to do with sorrow/Or the injuries of tomorrow/Thou art a dew-drop which the morn brings forth/Ill-fitted to sustain unkindly shocks..."

Most nights anymore, our living room is your concert hall.  Various plastic containers and metal mixing bowls comprise an expansive, if rudimentary, drum set.  You have a real microphone and microphone stand gifted to you by your (great) uncles who we visit each year at the beach.  And a small amplifier donated with love by your Peepaw.

Your set list is almost entirely Imagine Dragons.  "Believer" and "Thunder" came out shortly after you were born, and we listened to them countless times on the way to and from daycare back in those days.  Thankfully, you've expanded your repertoire to include several of their other songs.  The only exception is your finale, which is always the Glass Animals' infectious "Heat Waves."

I attempt to play the drums while you sing and dance around the stage in one of several "Singing Man Dan" plaid button-up shirts we've bought for you.  (Imagine Dragons lead singer's name is Dan.  He wore plaid shirts in a couple of videos.  Therefore it only stands to reason that all lead singers must wear plaid.)  Some nights your mother will "play" the guitar.  And your sister... well, she sometimes serves as a stage dancer, sometimes she joins me on drums, and other times she plays with her dolls unaffected by the ruckus.

You take it all so seriously.  We installed multi-colored light bulbs in the ceiling fan light assembly which you adjust to match the stage lights of whichever video you are watching.  You are also known for giving strict and explicit instructions to band members during the show should we veer off course.  But you once said I was probably the best drummer in the whole world, so that gets me through the scoldings.

You turned six last month.  One of my favorite moments of your birthday party was walking outside to see you coming down the bounce-house slide with three girls.  You later complained your least favorite part of the day was when said girls had gone inside for a few minutes to play dolls with your sister.  (I fight against a strong urge to insert the obligatory "That's my boy!" here.)

After receiving a real bowling ball for your birthday from your Nana, I woke up Sunday to discover that our kitchen had been turned into a four-lane bowling alley.  Lane one was comprised of your plastic bowling pins.  This devolved into a rag-tag collection of Do-A-Dot markers and plastic bottles for pins across lanes two thru four, at last requiring (and possibly highlighted by) a single, empty Sun Drop can to complete lane four.

You love YouTube.  Some genius -- I use this in both the best and most sarcastic senses of the word -- created a mini bowling lane in his house, with a working pin-setter.  Now that you've seen that video, you want us to build our own.  (Thanks a lot, Braedan Brennaman.) Last year for Christmas, you wanted a lawn mower -- one that legitimately cuts.  In the interim, whenever we mow, you carry a pair of scissors as you push your plastic mower, bending down every several steps to trim some blades of grass.

You are smart, sensitive, energetic, and far too sweet for this world.  A wonderful big brother to a sister who doesn't always deserve it.

We were at the doctor's office a couple of weeks ago when you pointed to the wall behind me and said excitedly, "Daddy, I know that painting!"  "Really, what is it, buddy?"  "It's called the Starry Night," you said sweetly just as I turned around to see a copy of Van Gogh's famed masterpiece, while thinking to myself, "I don't think I knew that until I was twenty-five!"

There is little doubt you will soar higher than I ever dreamed.  I can't do it for you.  No matter how many times I wish I could, I can't do any of it for you.  But I will always be there to steady the ladder as you climb.

Overjoyed that for a little while I got to be the drummer in your concert.

Monday, October 24, 2022

July 1976

Granny put your rollin' pin down
Granny put your rollin' pin down
It's time for them to lay grandpa in the ground
Granny put your rollin' pin down

Mama she been up all night
Oh, my Mama she been up all night
I could hear her cryin' 'til the early morning light
Poor Mama she been up all night

People gonna come far and near
People gonna come far and near
Child, won't you hold still and let me pin this boutonniere
'Cause people gonna come far and near

Uncle Joe gave me a two-dollar bill
Uncle Joe gave me a two-dollar bill
Mama said I better save it so I guess I always will
Uncle Joe gave me a two-dollar bill

Thought Granny would cry but she ain't
Thought my Granny would cry but she ain't
I heared some folks a-sayin' that grandpa wudn't no saint
Thought Granny would cry but she ain't

Aunt Ida says grandpa is asleep
Aunt Ida says grandpa is asleep
Uncle Calvin says this place always give him the creeps
But Aunt Ida says grandpa's just asleep

Jesus gonna come back someday
Jesus gonna come back someday
Least that's what I always heared the preacher man say
Jesus gonna come back someday

Folks'll be bringing lots of food
Folks'll be bringing lots of food
You just learn to clean your plate and tell 'em that it's good
Folks'll be bringing lots of food

Daddy can we go into town
Daddy can we go into town
After they lay my grandpa in the ground
Aw, Daddy can we go into town

Wish I had me a cold RC
With I had me a cold RC
Someday I'll die too, but today I'm only three
And I wish I had a cold RC

We'll be back on Decoration Day
We'll be back here on Decoration Day
Women-folk bring flowers and us kids will run and play
We'll be back here on Decoration Day

Granny put your rollin' pin down
Aw, Granny put your rollin' pin down
I just watched some strangers lay poor grandpa in the ground
So Granny put your rollin' pin down

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Rice Frisbees

On Monday, you were Santa Claus, pulling around your "sleigh" -- a plastic blue and grey toy shopping cart -- filled with "presents" -- four foam blocks containing, respectively,  a toy cow, an asthma inhaler, plastic scissors, and some crescent-shaped plastic green object from parts unknown.  

You walk down the hall yelling "Ho, ho, ho" and bring presents to your daddy, who is pretending to be asleep on the kitchen floor.  Then you return to the North Pole, previously purposed as your mommy and daddy's bathroom, and start your magical journey all over again.  

But this is not quite enough, therefore you request something red to wear so as to be a bit more convincing.  Your daddy finds one of his shirts -- a red beach t-shirt -- that you eagerly climb into.  Once a red and grey baseball cap is added, the ensemble is complete.

It is Tuesday now and we have come to the park.  The weather is about as perfect as weather can be -- sunny and breezy, with the seductive coolness of fall.  It's the kind of day that seems to become a little more scarce with each passing year.

You and your sister begin to bound down the hill towards the playground.  About halfway, you change your mind.  You stop, turn around, and tell me you want to go down to the bridge and throw rocks in the water.  It is something we have done just once, the last time we came here, right near the end of our visit.  That you remember it and are choosing it above the swings and slides causes my soul to smile.

So your mother follows along after Harper to the playground, while you and I make our way down to the creek, or "river" as you will call it later.

At first, you sit on the bridge hanging your legs off the side.  I get a little nervous wondering if you could slip through the railing but I try hard to let you be.  You and your sister will never know the thousands of times my hands have been right there, an inch or two away, ready to catch you in case you fall.  

We cross over to the far side and began to pick up rocks and throw them into the "river."  I search for good skipping rocks.  You mimic my movements, appearing as if you're looking for just the perfect stone yourself.  You can't skip them yet, but that doesn't stop you from sidearming them into the water like your daddy.

We continue there for what must be twenty or thirty minutes.  I finally have to remind you about the playground.  But before we leave the creek bank, you notice a couple of people disc golfing and ask what they are doing.

I explain to you about the discs and the baskets and you ask if we have any at home.  I tell you that we have some discs and if the weather is nice we can come back tomorrow and throw them into the baskets.

At some point during my explanation, I must have used the term frisbee when referring to the discs.  And somehow you must have mixed up frisbee with Rice Krispies, because for the rest of the day you keep asking if we can go back to the park tomorrow and play "rice frisbees."

And I fall a little bit more in love with you.

Monday, November 23, 2020


You turned four last week.  

I wish I could write something grand, something worthy of your first four years, the joy you have brought to our lives and all the things we have learned from you.  But I cannot.

You are too sweet for this world.  A wonderful big brother to Harper.  You have been a wonderful child, our joy and pride.  And I don't know if you will remember this time of COVID, but you are a champ at wearing your mask.  It is normal for you.  You wear it far more willingly (and properly) than many adults.

You love garbage trucks and trains. You dressed up as a garbage truck for Halloween, thanks to some amazing handiwork by your mommy.  The getup included a fluorescent yellow vest which you wore every day for over two weeks, even putting it on over your pajamas to sleep in at night.

Every Tuesday if you're home, you take your toy garbage truck out onto the sidewalk with all your trash cans (and trash).  When the garbage man arrives, you proceed to mimic his actions, grabbing each can with your grabber arm, emptying it into your hopper, then setting it back down before moving along to the next.  All the while you are making garbage truck noises.  

The garbage man waves and honks.  He knows you, oh yes he does, to the extent that he was able to set up your four-year photo shoot at the local sanitation department, or as you call it, "where the garbage trucks sleep."  

"Garbage man Shane" even bought you a toy garbage truck, put official city sanitation stickers on it, filled it with candy, and gave it to you for your birthday.  And even though you have a fancier garbage truck at home, you solely played with the one the garbage man gave you for two weeks.

The years have flown, little buddy.  Oftentimes I find myself staring at you in amazement. 

You're perfect.  All your bones still unbroken.  Your innocence intact.  And so very many dreams have you yet to dream. 

I cannot help but wonder what the future holds...

When I am sixty-six, and you are twenty-three
Let me still remember the joy you were to me
Those golden curls, the morning snuggles
All your triumphs and your struggles

Story times and nursery rhymes
And the songs that we would sing
Jesus loves you, this you knew
From a very early age

When for me November comes
And your summer's just begun
I'll always be your biggest fan
Please come to visit when you can

When I am sixty-six, and you are twenty-three
I will still remember that perfect boy upon my knee
However far you wander, whatever you believe
But for now, just be four, for as long as you can be...