In This Corner: Legos. And In This Corner: Logic.

The argument began, as so many arguments begin in our house, with one of our daughters accusing the other one of not sharing something, and the other one then whining about the first one taking something from her and then someone taking something from someone else and then a bunch of shouting and crying and by the time the smoke has cleared I was wondering why here, in 2018, we don’t yet have time machines so I can go back to 1992 and the only arguments that mattered involved whether I, and the rest of us foreigners teaching English in Japan, should stay out all night at either Tramp’s or Sam and Dave II, two of the most-popular spots for 20-something-year-old ex-pats in Osaka to spend a Saturday night killing our livers on very cheap Japanese draft beer.

Yeah, it was that kind of argument.

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The Legos at the Scene of the Crime…I Mean, the Argument.

And like a lot of the arguments that kids have, it was one that defied any kind of logic. But, as parents for nearly a decade now, my wife and I have learned that logic can usually be thrown out the window when it comes to a lot of the reasons your kids have for doing the things they do. Such as why our daughters decided to start brawling over a box of Legos that neither of them had even mentioned, much less thought about or made any attempt to play with for the last six months.

Actually, let me correct myself. I’m certain that the mass of Danish-created molded plastic pieces that was now the center of Maddo and Little Sis’ universe hadn’t entered their consciousness in a year. Hell, a year-and-a half might have passed since either kid thought of, or even uttered the word, “Lego”. Like many kids, mine get attracted to various fads (fidget spinners, Hatchimals and, God help us, slime) quicker than a bee can find a Tootsie Pop in my hand. (And they always do.) I’d like to say toys come and go, but around our house, they just come and come and come and never leave.

And because of that, things get piled up in boxes, corners and storage bins in just about every available space. After a while, I start to think about getting rid of some of this clutter and I begin mapping out a strategy to make things disappear. But, the only thing that disappears is my hopes of ever having a junk-free house as long as I am legally responsible for my kids.

That’s because these adorable little girls have some kind of Jedi mind power that tells them exactly when Daddy is about to throw something of theirs out. And it is right then when they figure it’s a good time to start playing with that something again. And they play with it on every possible right-in-the-middle-of-everything-else surface in our house.

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Shakespearean Music, Indeed

(I wrote a version of this essay a few years ago. I decided it was time to update it to reflect changes and new information that adds to this story.)

And when she smiled all you thought about

Was running up Suicide Hill

And nothing short of a bullet

Could have broken your will

–Ron Hawkins/The Lowest Of The Low

“For The Hand Of Magdalena”

The above lines are from the pen of Ron Hawkins, who is the main singer and songwriter for a Toronto-area band called The Lowest Of The Low. The song “For The Hand Of Magdalena” was on the band’s 1991 debut, “Shakespeare…My Butt”, which along with Joe Walsh’s “Got Any Gum?” has to be a finalist for greatest album title of all time.

The Low performed three songs on CBS Saturday Morning on April 14–“Powerlines” and “Something To Believe In”, from their new album “Do The Right Now”, and “Rosy And Grey”, which is off of “Shakespeare”— and before that performance, if you live in the United States outside of upstate New York, you might have never heard of The Lowest Of The Low. However, they are a national treasure in their native Canada. And, as an American, I can say with near-100 percent certainty that the only reason I ever found out about the band was because I had a Canadian friend and co-worker who was a fan and introduced me to the “Shakespeare” album back in 1994, when we were teaching together in Japan.

Just thinking about that boggles my brain. I, the most-American American you could meet, had to be working in Japan in order for someone from Saskatchewan to expose me to what was then a three-year-old album by a band from Toronto that had already broken up by the time I first heard one of their songs.

There has to be a joke in there somewhere.

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Hey, Batter, Batter…

Part of becoming a parent is dealing with your kids’ involvement in sports. I say “dealing with” because, as any parent knows, any activity that your kids want to take part in always ends up costing at least twice as much money, and a million times as much time as you wish it would.

This scenario is extra difficult for me to deal with because I love sports. Sometimes, I think I love my Beloved Hometown Seattle Mariners even more than I love my kids. Just when I’m feeling this way, the Mariners will go and do something that is so Very Mariners that I will then want to light myself on fire. But, I played sports growing up–If you go to the trophy case at Gov. John R. Rogers High School, in Puyallup, Washington, you’ll see my name on the Most Improved Football Player Award from the 1985 season, a season in which we went a gloriously inept 2-7–and I want my daughters to at least try a sport of two.

Hey, somebody has to win gold medals in the 2032 Olympics, right? It might as well be my kids on the podium with tears in their eyes as “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays, and, maybe, fat product endorsement checks roll in.

But, in order to even get a sniff of such exalted sporting status, you have to start somewhere. And a couple of weekends ago, that “somewhere” was the first softball game for my 7-year-old daughter, Little Sis.

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The Breakfast-Baseball Lineup

Anybody who knows me knows that I am a big baseball fan in spite of my Beloved Seattle Mariners breaking my soul again and again with a now-Major League-leading 16-straight non-playoff seasons.

And to rub salt in that wound, that playoff-less streak is not only the longest in baseball, but also the longest in all of the four major North American pro sports leagues–MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL. Even the Cleveland Browns, who went 0-16 last season, have been to the playoffs more recently than the “Awesome M’s”, as I frustratingly refer to my team. (Although the Browns don’t have the Mariners beat by that much. They were last in the playoffs in 2002.)

Whatever. Opening Day is just a few days away for the M’s, who start the season at home with three against the Cleveland Indians. I have already told (warned) my wife and daughters that, thanks to MLB.com and Apple TV, come 7 p.m. Thursday night, our new, 58-inch Samsung will be showing the Mariners season opener in all of its 4K/Ultra Hi Def glory and there WILL NOT be any changing of the channel while the Mariners game is on. Besides, they all have iPads they can playing drawing games on, anyway. Let daddy have his opening night of Mariners Glory. There will be 161 more games this season you can interrupt.

The Mariners don’t make their first trip to Oakland, where I live, for three games against the A’s, until the third week in May. And although I want the A’s to do well, there is no doubt where my loyalties will lie. There’s a reason why I have a Mariners logo tattooed on my upper left arm: Because I care. Probably too much, but again…Whatever.

In addition to Mariners baseball, another thing I care about deeply is breakfast. I make 96% of the breakfasts in our house for one simple reason: I’m good at it. I use a cast-iron skillet for most of the cooking and when I get an idea for something in my head I don’t suffer easily anyone asking for anything different. Tortillas, cheese, bacon, a couple of eggs: There’s your breakfast burrito.

But, with two daughters who ar 7 and 9, and who typically ask for 17 things, then eat maybe two of them, you can probably imagine how well I am able to stick to my no-changes-in-daddy’s-plans meal philosophy.

Yet, breakfast is still awesome and so is baseball, but rarely are the two thought of together. That’s because, Boston’s Patriots Day game aside, nearly all Major League games are held in the afternoon or evening, long after you’ve put the Honey Nut Cheerios away. And that is a shame, because I have thought about all the different things that you can have for breakfast, and how the best of the bunch actually looks like a pretty solid batting order of a menu.

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Hitting 50

When I was a kid, everyone seemed old. Maybe that’s just the nature of being, say, your average nine-year-old. You’re a kid. You eat as much candy and watch as much TV as you can. And anyone at the ripe-old-age of 20 or more might as well be as ancient as the Pyramids in Egypt.

top-50-TelevisualBut, as you get older, and hit some of those age-related milestones that anyone who lives long enough hits, it’s almost like you do your best to not get “old” with every birthday…

For me, it was no problem staying awake so that at the exact stroke of midnight when I turned 21, I could legally waltz right into The Coug in Pullman, Washington for the first time and proceed to destroy my liver with unknown-brand cheap beer for two hours until last call.

My 30th was spent watching a performance of “Miss Saigon.” I admit I was taken in by the ladies on stage, who used their opening number to describe the temperature of the women in the South Vietnamese capital. But it was the girl I was with who later that night really showed me where the heat was on. The same girl who dumped me exactly one week later because she said I didn’t make enough money for her.

On my 40th birthday, I learned just how loud it is going 120 miles an hour when a skydiving guide strapped himself (and, fortunately) a parachute onto my back and threw us both out of an airplane flying at 14,000 feet above Byron, California.

None of the activities on these birthdays suggested anything about being “old”. Maybe that feeling comes from being a Gen X kid who grew up hating Russia, idolizing Ronald Reagan and going to high school in the 80s imagining himself as a cross between Ferris Bueller, Marty McFly and the members of the 1984 gold-medal-winning U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team. We had a lot of hubris. We grew up watching the Hostages come home from Iran and the Berlin Wall coming down. Everything was fresh and we WON stuff. We were the generation that really wasn’t going to ever get old because, well, we had MTV to keep us young.

That was all fine and good. Until we did get old.

And no matter how you try to slice it, no matter how you may think you are still that 21-year-old legally waltzing into The Coug for the first time, when you turn 50, you are officially old. And this is what happened to me on February 18.

My birthday wasn’t terrible by any stretch. In fact, it was exactly the kind of birthday that the 50-year-old me wanted. Like any self-respectng Old Guy, I got up early, and before everyone else. Those people being my wife, 7 and 9 year old daughters, and my 77 year old mom, who had come down from Tacoma, Washington for the long birthday weekend. We went to breakfast at my favorite joint (Ole’s Waffle Shop, in Alameda, California) came home, put on the Ultra 4K Blu-Ray DVD of the classic film “The Bridge On The River Kwai” (You will be hard-pressed to beat the cinematic teaming of Best Actor Oscar winner and Future Obi-wan Kenobi Alec Guinness and Fellow Best Actor Oscar winner and Legendary Hollywood Drunk Bill Holden), hung out a bit, watched some Olympics, and then went to dinner at a local Thai/Asian restaurant. We then went home and had some birthday cake my wife had made and the day was done.

Sir Alec doesn’t win an Oscar if he doesn’t build that bridge for the Japanese.

Before he was Obi-wan, Alec Guinness was bridging the River Kwai

Just a couple of decent meals, some great entertainment and my closest family members. I don’t need to go to Vegas for that.

“Age ain’t nothing but a number,” said the late R&B singer (and one-time-R. Kelly-underage wife) Aaliyah. That’s the kind of easy, pretentious thing that a 15-year-old who thinks they are being profound would say. But age ain’t just that number. Age is who you are, too. And when you hit 50, who you are is an Old Guy.

When I was growing up, 50 was a World War II veteran, Fifty was a guy working at an auto body shop with the name “Herm” on his grease-stained shirt. Fifty was a black and white photo of Richard Nixon and his advisers in the Oval Office. Fifty was arthritis. Fifty was a two-packs-a day salesman. Fifty was a glass or two of Scotch at the end of every day. Fifty was ancient.

Now, I am 50, and I am none of those things. But I am still 50 and I can’t deny that.

Sure, I may wear cargo shorts like any dad of little girls and I day-drink the afternoon away a couple of times a year at a weekday baseball game. But I also “feel” those $10 ballpark beers much more than I did just five years ago.

When I look at one of my wife’s trashy celebrity magazines, I recognize, at most, half of the starlets and studs that Hollywood deems worthy of public adoration.

My kids can immediately tell the difference between an Ed Sheeren song and a Justin Bieber song. When this happens, I feel an immediate need to have them hear the difference between Steve Winwood doing “Gimme Some Lovin” and Alex Chilton singing, “September Gurls.”

Oh, Age Is More Than That...

No…It is MUCH more than that

AARP wants me for my annual dues as much as the U.S. Army wants to sign up lower middle class recruits to fight the endless War On Terror.

I get a little excited knowing that I am just five years away from being able to order from the “Senior discount” menu at Denny’s. And then I laugh with the gallows humor one has when he realizes he is just five years away from qualifying for something that heretofore was reserved for people like his grandparents.

Let me make this clear: I don’t feel ready for the grave, yet. But, let there be no doubt, either, that I know I am not immortal by any stretch. I am 50 years old. Or, to put it another way, I am exactly half way between how old I was when I graduated college (23. I stuck around an extra semester to get a second degree) and how old my mother is now (77).

Yes, turning 50 certainly means something. And that something is that every birthday means I am another year further away from my senior year of college, and another year closer to being a senior citizen. My age is my number. My age is who I am.

The Father Of Our Country

lincoln(I am re-posting this as I do every February 12, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, the 209th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.)

This site is mostly about the funnier aspects of fatherhood. But while humor is necessary to get through the insane situations your kids put you in, being a dad isn’t all silliness.

When you become a father, your responsibilities increase by an immeasurable rate. You are not just in charge of yourself, you are in charge of another life and all that it can become from the moment it enters the world. Everything you have done before that moment you hold your child for the first time doesn’t matter anymore. Everything you do from that moment on, for better or worse, will be etched in perpetuity.

You will wake up every day, and know that this experience will not end. Ever. Even after you are gone. You will find yourself amazed every day at what this life will bring to yours. You will make decisions that at times will not be enjoyable for yourself or your child. But you have to do such things because you have to. And sometimes, as a father, that is the only reason that matters. Because you have to.

I can’t think of anyone who, during the worst time in the history of the United States, had to do so much just because he had to than Abraham Lincoln. And because of this, he became the true Father of Country.

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The Drink Of The Weekend: 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon

As part of our mission here at Why Daddy Drinks to revel in the humorous lunacy that is fatherhood, and to promote the drinking of quality beverages, we bring you our erratically scheduled segment highlighting something that should be in your glass. This is The Drink Of The Weekend.

I have always had a thing for Australia. It might have started back when I was a kid and Olivia Newton-John was singing and acting her way into my dreams when she was in “Grease”. I’m sure it involved kangaroos and koalas and the mystery of why these animals were only found in this strange land where everyone spoke English, yet also seemed to live about as far south as anyone could get without ending up in Antarctica.

And there’s no denying that Men At Work and their still-monstrous hit “Down Under” played its part in piquing my Aussie interest.

(True story: Men At Work’s “Business As Usual” was one of the first two cassette albums I ever bought. The other was the self-titled debut from Asia. You may laugh if you want, but I KNOW you are enjoying “Heat Of The Moment” as it plays in your head right now.)

Of course, as soon as “Down Under” was played for the first time, I knew it was a hit. I probably heard that song a thousand times before figuring out what a vegemite sandwich was. And once I eventually did try vegemite years later, I completely understood what someone meant when they had told me that vegemite was “something only an Australian could like.”

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