Snow and Toenails


I’m back….sorry it’s been such a long time, but things have gotten hectic.  Spring time is always so busy for everyone, and our household is no different.

But I digress…..

Do you remember when your mom told you not to pluck out one eye brow, because it would grow back thicker, courser, and crazy like?  Yeah, I didn’t listen to her either.  I spend a good part of my day with one hanging in my line of sight, licking my finger, and rubbing it across my eyebrow trying to get it back in position.  I know it’s gross, but you do the same thing, and don’t act like you don’t.

But I digress…..

Is anyone glad that winter seems to finally left ???  I, for one, am excited.  Not because of the cold, but because, for some reason, stupidity is heightened when it’s single digits outside.

Picture this:  Sunday before Snowpocalypse 2015, round 2.  Wal-Mart is packed after church.  I drop my bride off at the front door, so she can run in and get the last loaf of bread and gallon of milk.  Should take 10 minutes, tops.  I drive around the parking lot a few, then pull up to the left of the front door, off to the side, so she can walk out and get in.

Of course, 10 turned into 30.

During this time, there was a black Jaguar, XJ6 parked just outside the front door of Wally World, in front of me, engine running, no one inside.

I watched this for 20 minutes.

Finally, out comes a woman who makes two of me, in those awful multicolored stretch pants, Uggs, and pushing a cart with three plastic bags of groceries.  She unloads said cart, squeezes herself into her Jag, and drives off……..leaving the cart 15 feet from the entrance.  I know, because I got out and counted the steps while returning the cart back inside.

And don’t get me started on the phone calls from people wondering why we weren’t in school, “just because their road in town was just fine.”  Because you know that your 200 yards of asphalt is an exact replica of the 950 miles of county back roads……morons…..

But Spring brings it’s own set of problems as well.  Sleeveless t-shirts, jorts, tank tops, and finally, those awful new mom cut, acid washed blue jean high waist shorts.  Man those are awful.

But the worst are flip flops.


My feet are ugly, really ugly.  In fact, most guys feet are nasty.  As the male species, we should take the lead and end all footwear that exposes crooked toes, bunions, broken/missing toenails, cracked and peeling skin, and misplaced hair follicles.  If your toes look like you are crossing them to keep from getting cooties, please wear crocs.  No one with any self respect wears crocs in public anymore, but we will give you a pass to cover them up.

As a woman, if any of the above describes your feet, please follow our lead.

After all, everyone likes to go fishing in the summer, and we don’t need any competition for the fish.


Public Service Announcement


Picture this:  A series of books about a 40 something, uber-aggressive, divorcee, alpha female, who preys upon un-suspecting newly wed men.  They decide to make a movie, and Kate Upton is the leading lady.  Men line the movie theatres to get a ticket, and sit around with their buddies watching Kate Upton “demolish” young men.

But I digress….

Man, who knew cheerleading could get people all worked up?  I mean HOLY COW people get worked up.  I still remember going into Dallas as a teenager to watch the girls from Martin perform in the National Championships at the Convention Center.  Little did I know that I was going to marry one of ‘em.  Then again I’m glad she was a cheerleader long enough to get dropped on her head a few times,  how else can you explain her decision to marry me?

But I digress….

I have something to get off of my chest.  Just consider it a public service announcement.

Pay attention.

If you’re an adult male, stop using the word “delicious”

Stop it.

My mother was a stay at home mom until I was in high school.  As a result of this, my brother, sister, and I spent a lot of time around other stay at home mom’s houses with their kids.  We spent time at Ladies Bible Studies in the middle of the week.  Wherever women congregate, there is going to be food.  Especially when the group largely consists of moms who work at home.

Now, I’m not a woman, but in those settings, you hear the word “delicious”…… a lot.  As a casual observer over the years, I’ve decided the word almost turns into an adjective that modifies how terrible the cooking is.  Or it is a word used to heap an inordinate amount of praise upon a moderately tasty dish.   It’s also a word that allows you to only take two or three bites of a concoction you really don’t want to finish eating.

I could be totally wrong in my assessment of the woman’s use of the world delicious.

As young boys, there is no bigger smile on a mother’s face than when her little man tells her how delicious dinner was.

However, when grown men use it, it’s just creepy.  Men should never use the word delicious…….ever.

Men should use some kind of powerful word like awesome, fantastic, or unbelievable.  You might even use an explicative when describing food……but NOT delicious.

You know I’m right.  In fact, right now, you’re saying the word and realizing just how creepy it sounds.  Before you go to bed tonight, you’re going to look in the mirror and say it.  It will be then that you will swear off the word for the rest of your days.

That is how passionate I am about eradicating this word from the adult male’s dictionary.

Except when describing red velvet heart cakes from Little Debbie, those are delicious.


What tha……

older person

I don’t know why we have a dog.  Really I don’t.  He barks, chews on stuff, wedges himself in between everyone, forces me to come home for lunch so he can go potty, but still tends to poop in the floor every once in a while.  But then you see your kids hugging the dog, and you kind of figure out why Santa brought him.

But I digress……

Today was one of my favorite days of the year, National Signing Day for college football.  For those of you who are UT Martin grads, we had a huge day.  We’ve come a long way in the past 12 years.  We are now competing with Middle Tennessee, Memphis, Western Kentucky, and other FBS schools for recruits, and that’s a big deal…..a REALLY BIG deal.

But I digress….

As I approach the end of my fourth decade on God’s green earth, I am wondering just what happened to my physical body.  Being a father of girls, I rarely throw a baseball anymore, but a  few weeks ago I got to throw one with a very talented 14 year old.  It was the first time in a LONG time.  It hurt, and it was scary.  I realized for the first time that I am getting older.  My reflexes have slowed and it hurts to run and jump.  I’m scared to death to break out in a full sprint, or even play half court basketball for fear of pulling my hamstring or blowing out my knee.

Like the Cora Armstrong’s quote above, I’m wondering what he H-E-double hockey sticks happened to me!

My body is now holding me accountable for my actions.

Accountability is a scary word.  It conjures up pride and panic, success and failure, and fight versus flight.

The most troublesome part of that word is how easily we chunk it around.  It’s almost like calling someone a liar, racist, cheater, or thief without any knowledge of said labels.

I always loved the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie “didn’t say Fudge” and had his mouth washed out with soap, and the ensuing phone call.

Raphie’s  mom to Schwarz’s mother, “Do you know where he heard it?”

Schwartz’s mom, “From his father?”

Ralphie’s Mom, ” No, he heard it from YOUR son.”

Now we all know Ralphie’s old man, “worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master.”  Despite this, Schwartz was held accountable and took the beating of a lifetime.

Like Raphie’s mom, we take an adult to task for cussing around our children in public, yet drop the “F” bomb like a drunken sailor in the confines of our own home.

We want to hold the teacher accountable for our student’s academic performance, but neglect their basic needs at home.

We want other adults to hold their children accountable for their actions, as ours run around like wild animals without any regards to others.

We want to write letters, give presentations, and run our mouths about something we don’t like (and are uneducated about), then shake our heads and say, “that’s not my job.”

Accountability is a lost art at home, in our marriages, in the workplace, in our relationships, the halls of congress, on the field of play, the playgrounds, in church, in the community, at schools, the list could go on and on.

How do we fix it?  I don’t know.  I’m really good at pointing out the problems.

Accountability starts every morning.  It stares back at us as we brush our teeth, and fix our hair.  If we can’t hold that person accountable, then how on earth can we hold others?



Don’t Yuck My Yum!!!



I throw out there that I rock at Trivia Crack, now everyone wants a piece of me.  Do you know how difficult it is to catch up on all of my games I have going?  It doesn’t make it any easier when my wife is now hooked.  Instead of reviewing our day, and mapping out the next, we lay in bed, a foot apart, challenging each other.

It also doesn’t help that I’ve figured out I’m not as good as I thought.

But I digress…

Operation Skinny Hatler took a shot to the gut last week as the Little Debbie “Be My Valentine” red velvet snack cakes appeared, out of nowhere, on the grocery store shelves.  I’ll take those over Christmas Tree cakes any day….and I have….a lot……

But I digress….

A week or so ago we were eating lunch with some dear friends and their children who are roughly the same age as ours.  The young’uns were at another table, talking about food.  One child said they liked something, and one of the children said, “EWWWWW!!!”  Immediately, the parent whipped around and said, “Don’t yuck somebody’s yum!”

We are constantly looking for “yums”, aren’t we?  Whether it be for us, our family, our children, significant other, or just quality of life in general, we’re always looking for the good, not bad.  Everyone’s tastes are different, and what makes us happy, may not get your motor turning.

The question then becomes, why are we so intent on yucking someone else’s yum?

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I tend to be that “yuck” guy from time to time…..probably more than time to time.

The truth of the matter is that we are so caught up in our own lives and goals, that we fail to see other people’s happiness for what it is….their happiness.

Does it really matter if you like Pineapple and ham pizza, and I don’t?  I can promise you I’m not going to eat that awful combination.  There’s a meat lovers coming out right behind your Hawaiian pizza anyway.

Does it really matter if you’re a vegan, and I like meat?  So what.  As long as I understand that you will have nothing to eat but tofu and hummus when I come over to your Super Bowl party.  However, this does not apply if you drag a McDonalds  bag into Wendy’s…that’s just rude.

You don’t like the way your child’s youth league coach conducts practice and games, yet you’re sitting on the sidelines?  Check the box.  You had every chance to do it yourself, and you didn’t.  I can also promise you that you’re no busier than the people that are out there.

And when the opportunity arises for you to get involved, don’t let it pass you by, and sure as heck don’t worry about those people that are “yucking” your decision.

And does it really matter what a person decides to do when it comes to bettering themselves?  Do those choices and activities REALLY matter to others in the grand scheme of things?

Start focusing on the “yums” and eliminate/get away from the “yucks”.

I’m going to focus on two of my “yums” right now, whole milk and Little Debbies.



What are you looking at? What am I looking at?


I know you never come here to read about my life, but all I can say is that I’m a lucky guy.  Very few are fortunate to have multiple “sets” of friends.  I moved to Tennessee from Texas 22 years ago this June.  Somehow, I’ve been able to keep some very strong relationships with the Red Oak High School Class of 1993.  My Tennessee circle and Texas circle collided last week, as four life long buddies came to the Volunteer State to duck hunt.  I’m a blessed man.

But I digress….

How are those resolutions coming? I blew mine on January 2nd, thanks to that stupid social media site Facebook.  I was going to be “less combative” in all phases of my life.

Facebook- 1

Resolution- 0

As my good buddy Bart Belew says, “Facebook is the middle class version of Topix.”

It sucked me right in….again

But I digress…..

If given one wish to be granted in all the world, and I couldn’t use the standard ones like world peace, end illness, and eliminate hunger, I’d have a pretty good one.

I would wish that everyone in the entire world would be self aware. 

More than likely,  you’ve reached this page through a Facebook link.  We all pretty much have a page.  With those pages, come the obnoxious, constant stream of game requests.

Whether we like it or not, having a Facebook page opens us up to the world.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t post at all, or too much like I do.  The simple fact that we engage in social media, such as Facebook, opens our lives up to the scrutiny of our peers.

It also opens us up to game requests.

There was a spike in Facebook gaming as my phone was dinging with requests for Candy Crush, Candy Crush Saga, Farmville, and Trivia Crack over the holidays.

By the way, I rock at Trivia Crack. Outside of two of my “rivals”, I’m pretty much crushing everyone.

With this spike in gaming, and the subsequent requests, so too came the obligatory posts of “Quit sending me game requests” and “I don’t play these stupid Facebook games” and the ever popular “I’ll defriend the next person who sends me a game request!!!!”

But the funny thing is, these are the same people who talk about how crappy their life is, how their ex is treating them, how their kids disrespect them, and enlighten us on the color and texture of their last bowel movement.

Really???  You’re upset at a simple game request that you can discreetly ignore, yet expose us to your issue of the day?

It’s like my friend, we’ll call him “Jim.”  Jim thinks he’s clever.  He throws out the most asinine comments about a variety of issues.  When he gets punked, and the receives the wrath Facebook, Jim tells us to scroll on by if it offends us because it’s his page.  Jim wants to make a statement that will illicit a response, then gets upset when people destroy is shallow thought process.

Jim is also the guy that is your best buddy one minute, and his mortal enemy the next because he is trying to impress a different audience.

Jim lacks self-awareness.

In order to help spread my mission of a world full of self aware individuals, here are a few of my suggestions that I struggle/don’t apply to my life.  These will be in the book that my wife says I need to pen, “How to Live Life the Right Way, the John Hatler Way.”  If you need to insert sarcasm like my sweet wife does when you say that, feel free to:

  1. If someone stinks, don’t say anything because it might be you.
  2. Smile.  As the old saying goes, you’re never fully dressed without one.
  3. Never be afraid to fall on your face, at least you will be falling forward.
  4. If you’re surrounded by jerks/racists/miserable people every where you go, you’re probably the jerk/racist or making them miserable.
  5. It’s only a secret between two people when one of them is dead.
  6. Measure your words, you never know who is one aisle over.
  7. If you don’t want confrontation, keep you mouth shut.
  8. Tolerance is an attribute, being tolerant is work.
  9. If you get mad about social issues and the game requests on Facebook, you’re probably the one who posts too much on Facebook.
  10. It’s a real talent to be able to “tell it like it is”, it’s a bigger trait to accept being told how it is.

Now I’m not going to claim that I came up with all of those,  but I will for #9.

Christmas Balls


One of the awesome things about living in a small, rural town is the events that the city will sponsor throughout the year.  I love going to Santa’s Village, hosted by the City of Martin and the Parks and Recreation Department.  I love to watch the excitement on my girl’s faces when they see all those lights, the petting zoo, Santa Claus, and the spinning barrels of death that have puke dried to the floor.  I don’t get in there anymore.  I almost up-chucked two years ago making it “go faster daddy.”  Never again.

But I digress…

Hey!!  Big excitement just a few minutes ago as I was tweeted back by Clay Travis!!!  For those of you who don’t know, he has a great sports blog and website in the Nashville area.  He is a really good follow on Twitter, @ClayTravisBGID, with all things Tennessee, and SEC sports.  I know I’m being a goober, but it makes me feel like somebody.

But I digress…

I’ve always believed I’m pretty self aware.  I know my shortcomings in most things, understand that not everyone likes me, I run my mouth just a smidgeon more than I need to, there are times I don’t practice what I preach, I’m very opinionated (often a detriment), and I can be hard to get along with.

I’m also dashingly handsome………….quit laughing…

However, there will be a day when that self awareness slowly starts to dissipate.  It’s kind of like the older gentlemen who wear black, calf high socks and tennis shoes and shorts.

Don’t do that.

In fact, I have a pact with a dear friend that, if either of us begins to wear that ensemble, we are allowed to kick the other below the belly button and above the thigh.

I’m trying to get back in the gym, and one of the things I like is the cardio interval class.  I’m one of the only guys in there, but I doesn’t bother me.  I just like to see just how far I can push my athletically fat self.  I try to dress appropriately.  I color coordinate, and wear a sweatshirt for extra sweat because I hate fans blowing on me when I’m trying to work out.  I don’t want to be cold.

I was reminded tonight how my long shorts are a good thing.  Long gone are the days of shorty shorts like Jimmy Connor used to wear…..or so I thought.  Tonight I saw, after it being pointed out to me by a bunch of women, an older gentleman on a stationary bike on the balcony above our class.  As he was getting off the bike, his shorts also had some trouble holding in some, uhh, stuff.

One thought raced through my head:

Holy cow that could be me in 30 years.

People are always paying attention….always.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, people pay attention to the way you treat them, even if you’re being coy.

Walking past your Dad’s best friend and looking the other way hurts them.

Looking right at someone at a Christmas party and turning your head to avoid eye contact is rude.

Dropping your head when you see someone you go, or used to go, to church with so you don’t have to acknowledge them is just plain hurtful.

The worst part of it is our children notice.

That scares me to death because I want my kiddos acting like their momma….not like me.

And I want them to wear long shorts, and dresses, and long sleeves, and turtlenecks.

They don’t need anything falling out.

Blinkers are Good


You Elf on the Shelf Facebooking parents are overachievers.  I admire your creativity and enthusiasm.  I just want to know how on earth you have time to make such a production out of his/her travels to, from, and around your house.


Our Elf, I don’t even know its name anymore because the girls keep changing it, makes a mad dash from room to room around 5:30 am.  I would assume a healthy marriage starts every morning with something other than, “DID YOU REMEMBER TO MOVE THE ELF LAST NIGHT!”

But I digress…..

When the heartbreaking day comes where my children learn the secret of the Elf’s magic, and how Santa can make a worldwide delivery in a shade under 24 hours, my kids are going to be sorely disappointed.  We try to teach our children to give good effort in everything they do, and we’re terrible at this elf stuff.

You know what I want to do with our elf??

I want to have our Elf on the Shelf holding a knife to the neck of one of the girl’s Barbie dolls, with a note that reads “Keep your $%*&+@^ room clean or Barbie dies!”

Or what about a bunch of burned up cigarette butts, with the explanation that the Elf is doing drugs because he’s disappointed in them for not eating all their green beans like their mother told them to?

Those would be epic.

I’d like to put that on Facebook, and see how many “likes” it gets.

But I digress……………………

Tomorrow, when you get in your car, I want you all to do something for me.  Take a look at that stick on the left hand side, that comes out from the steering column, right behind the steering wheel.  After you start your car, and before you even move it out of its parking spot, play with that stick.

I know you are familiar with it.  You use it when it rains.  You probably twist it so the windshield wipers will move back and forth, at variable speeds, across that huge piece of glass in front of you, to remove the build up of water.

That little stick has another function.  If you push it towards the roof of your car, it signals to all of those around you that you will soon be moving your vehicle to the right.  Push it down, you are moving to the left.

Go ahead, play with it a little and see how it works.  When done properly, you will hear a repeating clicking noise that corresponds with a flashing light on the front and back of your vehicle.  They are called Turn Signals, and are commonly referred to as “blinkers.”

Turn Signals, or blinkers, are a common courtesy.  It’s like waving to someone.  Think about it.  We wave at people for a variety of reasons.  To say “hello”, to let them know we are arriving, to show them where we are, or to get their attention.  Blinkers on your car serve the same purpose, they let everyone know you are here and where you are going.

People who use their blinkers, or turn signals, are good people.  They care about the safety and well being of those around them, and for the overall health of the human race.  They adopt abandoned puppies, care for the elderly, and mow their neighbor’s grass.

People that refuse to use their blinkers are anti-social, self-centered, egotistical, and probably enter Wal-Mart through the exit door.  They are also the same people who do not put the shopping cart back in the bin, which is located two parking spots away from the car in which that they do not utilize the turn signals.  They are also responsible for the carbon footprint, world hunger, Ebola,  and club baby seals for fun.

People that don’t use turn signals probably shouldn’t procreate either.  Let’s face it, if they’re not willing to let us know which way they’re going, they probably have no desire to point their children in the right direction either.  In fact, those people’s kids are the ones who will tell my kids about Santa’s magic.

I’ve got to go move this stupid elf……….where is Barbie, and where is my butchers knife?

There, Their, They’re

t t t

The best part of writing a blog, when you profess to be a grammar Nazi, is waking up the next morning and having your wife, the school teacher, read it.  She crucifies it.  She also takes an enormous amount of pleasure pointing it out to me. I spend the next 10 minutes trying to take the dog on his morning potty walk, correcting the mistakes on my phone, while trying to dodge mailboxes.  I’ve smoked the Crowes and Davidsons box several times.

But I digress….

We all like to think we are more important than we are, and this was apparent in an article in a local paper yesterday about UT Martin football.   Apparently, “WEST” Tennessee is a 25 mile radius around Jackson.  We were privy to who a sports writer would sign if he were a college coach.  I just kind of find it funny that they can’t even promote talent outside of the immediate Jackson readership, but somehow have become experts on West Tennessee talent.  My favorite part was when he claimed a local quarterback, could be the offensive player of the year in the OVC as a true freshman.  That’s funny, because the Offensive and Defensive players of the year in the Ohio Valley were Southeastern Conference transfers.

But I digress….

Last night I went to bed, after I had typed up a response to the aforementioned article.  I was feeling pretty good about it.  It was concise, to the point, and on target.  I felt GREAT.  I adhered to the “sleep on it” rule before hitting send.  I didn’t have time to fire it out this morning, and I’m glad I didn’t send it.

It is now 10:48 pm on Tuesday, December 2nd.  I just left the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house, a place where I spent some good times not too long ago.  We had a young man choose to end his life today.  Those guys are hurting tonight.

There are also three families in East Tennessee, who lost their loved ones in a school bus accident this afternoon.  Two of them really hit close to home because they lost precious children, and my two girls ride a bus to the daycare facility every day.

While the dust, ashes, and looting are hopefully coming to an end in Ferguson, Missouri over a death that could have been avoided, events like today really bother me.

The one at the Pike House is extremely unsettling.

I just can’t help but wonder why someone so young would end their life.  What would cause someone that age to be so destitute that ending their life is the best solution?  Even more, how no one saw it coming.  Then again, do you ever really see it coming?

We are all so trapped in our own little six foot circle, that we’ve forgotten what is truly important……those around us.  The biggest lie ever told is that you have to be happy with yourself before you can make others happy.

Our children’s happiness is more important that ours.

Our spouse’s happiness is more important than ours.

Our neighbor’s happiness is more important than ours.

Our family and friend’s happiness is more important than ours.

If those things don’t, in turn, make US happy, then we have a problem.

Never, ever, think you’re too tough to go see a counselor.  Don’t ever think that talking to someone about your problems makes you a weak person.

But most importantly, always make sure people know just how important they are to you.  Send them a note, a text, an e-mail….send something.

You just never know the happiness it will bring.

But Dad, It’s not my fault!!

Hot wings

You all sure are a bunch of smarty pants.  I make one little statement about Little Debbie Christmas Tree cakes, and my Facebook page, text message inbox, and even office are full of those scrumptious delicacies.  Never mind that I’ve struggled enough this month by eating the Turkey and Dressing sub 10 of the last 17 days at Sammies.  I blame Todd Hampton and Lisa Laderman for that.

But I digress….

Today was a real eye opener for me.  I busted a button on my pants.  I did this AFTER I ate one of those smores cookies, AFTER I had that Turkey and Dressing sandwich for the third day in a row.  If it not for that  meal, I’d still have a my favorite khakis at my disposal.  Good thing my mom taught me how to sew buttons on garments.

But I digress….

I’ve been taken aback by what I’ve witnessed this week, and it started before Monday night.  Earlier that day, I visited a correctional institution, and laughed, watching and listening to, what I assumed, were regulars.  They knew the ins and outs of how to navigate around the jail cell with ease.  How much it would cost to post bail, the documents required, and the time frame in which to get what they needed.

I once had a young man who was complaining about always being “picked on” by the police, and how he always seemed to get in trouble.  He always seemed to get into trouble when he was at the bar.  He asked how he could avoid trouble, I told him to change his playground.  “But Mr. Hatler, all my friends are there.”  My suggestion to him was maybe he needed to find new friends on a new playground.   But it wasn’t his fault that trouble found him, he was always just in the wrong place at the wrong time…..every….single…..time…..excuses.

Excuses…we all have them.  You know the old saying…we all have them, and most of them stink.

Excuses, we even heard them Saturday night and Sunday after the Vols lost a heartbreaker to Missouri.  If I heard/read one person say the off sides, on the on sides kick, “cost us the game” once, I heard it 100 times.


As Kevin Ward stated, after his Crockett County Cavaliers spectacular season came to an end on a tough play, “you never win the game on the first play of the game, and you never lose it on the last.”

I once had a college professor that “gave” me a ‘D’ all three times I took his class.  Of course, it wasn’t my fault, it was the professor’s.  After trying to explain this to my dad, he looked at me and said, “Son, in police work, it’s called a clue.  There is obviously something you’re doing that causes you to earn that grade.  How about let’s stop taking his classes, or, better yet, change your behavior.”

Good advice indeed……

It is just like my “weight problem” and the button that turned into a projectile today.  If I want to eat at the best sandwich shop around, I better get back in the gym.

If our children have smart mouths, it’s not the TV’s fault, it’s ours.

When your team loses, it’s not the one penalty that cost them the game, it’s the five bad plays they had throughout the game.

If your child gets sent to ISS because you told them to disrespect the teacher, it’s not the teacher’s fault.

When you get pulled over for speeding and the “cop was hiding”, it’s not he police officer’s fault, it’s yours.

If an adult whips around in the movie theater and tells your kid to quit kicking the back of their seat, don’t look at them like they have the problem.

Let’s look around and see what we have to be thankful for, instead of excuses for the things we don’t have.

My family wishes you and yours a Merry Thanksgiving!

I hope the Browns have hot wings.

Sure!! Nevermind………

Test didnt study for

When people ask me what my major was in college, I just shake my head and laugh.  I enjoyed my time at the University of Tennessee at Martin so much, that I finished my four year degree in eight years.  I never missed a semester, and was only on academic probation once.  I attempted 212 hours and passed 196.  I had a GREAT time.  The only reason I’m probably still not there is the purse strings were snipped, and a good woman “encouraged” me to get finished.

But I digress…

I hated to study.  Hated it.  There was always something better to do.  A game of Rook at the Church of Christ Student Center, round of golf, baseball practice, party at the Pike House, dinner at Jody’s parent’s house, volleyball game at the Pike House, intramurals…something.  I could always find another use of my time, and it didn’t take much coercion.  That pretty much was the same for my classes too.  If it wasn’t English Literature, a class on Shakespeare or Geoffrey Chaucer taught by Dr. Pigg, or one of Dr. Depta’s Southern Literature or poetry class, I really didn’t care to go.

Not taking my class work and academics seriously was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  That story is for another day.

But I digress….

It’s official…I’m a father of girls.  I learned this the hard way on Tuesday afternoon as I made a visit to Martin Elementary.  My oldest wasn’t expecting to see me at her school that day.  I popped around the corner of the lunch room to surprise her, and she was mortified.  That lovable brown haired girl that jumps into my arms every day when I get home, was in utter shock and total embarrassment when she saw me.

I’ve seen that look before, but it was 24 years ago.

I have beautifully made, younger sister that is the epitome of class and grace.  She is, far and away, the strongest person I know.  The crap she had to deal with as a 14 year old freshman is one I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.  Yet she handled it better than her older brothers did.  Through it all, she remained faithful to her Church and the values our parents attempted to instill in us.

But there is another experience that she had to deal with that shaped her into the woman and mother she is today.  It involved an insanely short pair of cut off blue jean shorts,  a sleeveless AGR sweatshirt, brown sandals, and a trip to Shur Valu with her father.

My dad could dress….seriously dress.  Nice suits, French cuff shirts with cuff links, snazzy ties, and accessorized with any type of boot you could imagine.     Eel, Lizard, Elephant, snake,  buffalo, ostrich, you name it.  There were days he would throw on the felt cowboy hat for good measure.

However, when he got home from a taxing day at work, and my Mom asked him to go to the local grocery store,  he would always ask his daughter to accompany him.  Molly always said, “YES!!!”  Dad would tell her he was going to get his keys, and emerge from the bedroom looking like a University of Florida frat boy.

Those shorts looked great on Cindy Crawford in that Pepsi commercial….but not on a 40 year old man.

As you can well imagine, my sister suddenly had a change of heart, but Dad made her go anyway.  Imagine a 10 year old girl coming into her own, and going to the local grocery with her daddy, dressed like Wild Bill from Silence of the Lambs.

A guy who was the Deputy Chief of Police in Dallas, unbelievably smart, was appointed then elected to the School Board in Red Oak, and a Deacon in our church……..dressed like THAT.

I don’t know if he realized what he was teaching all of us by wearing that hideous outfit.  It has taken me becoming a father to start to grasp that unintended lesson.  Despite how stressful his job was, the professional appearance that he was expected to keep, the fact he had to lead all kinds of people, he was still just an old farm boy from Martin, Tennessee.

But most importantly, he was a normal father, living an extraordinary life with a wonderful wife and mother, trying to raise three kids the best way he knew how.

Life isn’t scripted.  It’s a daily pop quiz, fraught with lessons we just aren’t ready for.

And just when you think you know it all, out come the Cindy Crawford shorts.