No, not a Tall Boy. A 24 ouncer, which is like, a third bigger than a Tall Boy and demands significantly more commitment. Preferably, the beer should be pre-warmed in the bottle cage of your road bike. Enter that road bike and Super Tall Boy PBR in a sprint race up the side of a mountain—the kind of race where Olympic medalists show up, and everyone talks about “tapering their training.” You should immediately get disqualified from the race because your wife beater and jean shorts don’t meet US Cycling Association “standards,” but then demand to race anyway, promising to donate all of your winnings to the charity of the USA Cycling Association official’s choice. Drink that warm PBR slowly, at the finish line at the top of the mountain, in front of that USA Cycling Association official. Preferably, you should drink it with at least two other friends, also over-worked, over-tired dads dressed in jean cutoffs and wife beaters. Because sometimes, dads need to get together and do something that embarrasses their wives.
This is what my son asked to put on the grocery list this week: Pez, batteries, and chocolate donuts. I asked if that’s all we needed from the store for the entire week—maybe we should add some milk, or some veggies—but he stuck to his guns. Pez, batteries, and chocolate donuts. Childhood obesity aside, you’ve gotta respect the kid’s whimsical outlook on life.
It reminds me of a story my mom likes to tell about how I tried to run away as a little kid. She told me I couldn’t run away because I didn’t know how to cook or tie my shoes. I said I’d eat cookies and wear loafers.
Cute, until you realize I was 12 and still couldn’t tie my shoes.
Anyway, there was a time, not too long ago, when I would’ve taken my son’s challenge and stocked the grocery cart with nothing but ding dongs and Duracells. Carpe diem, mother fuckers.
But I don’t carpe diem so much anymore. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve matured, but mostly it’s because I have to get up in the morning and spend a solid 12 hours catering to every whim of my two children. At about 6am, my kids will start asking me, “what are we going to do today, daddy?” I can hold them off with cartoons for a while, but by 7am, if I don’t have a firm plan for the day that includes a craft project and the slim possibility of them being able to pet a live lion, it’ll get “Lord of the Flies” up in here real quick.
I can remember the last time I seized the day. Actually, I can’t remember the actual seizing of the day, but I remember the day after, when I spent a significant amount of time throwing up loudly in the bathroom while my daughter cried outside the door, and repeatedly asked her brother, “what’s wrong with daddy?”
Yeah, that’ll fix any inclinations to carpe the fucking diem.
And let’s say I did some carpe diem-ing with my children, threw caution to the wind and fed the family chocolate donuts for breakfast, lunch, and snack. Do you know what happens when my kids skip their nap? The cat will get shaved.
These days, I have a new motto: Seize the tomorrow. Carpe, uh, tomorrow (sorry, the only Latin I know comes from Dead Poets Society). It takes copious amounts of planning, saving, resting, and monitoring of blood pressure levels to truly seize the tomorrow. Most of the time, I fall completely short, and only manage to seize the couch.
I was doing some light math recently (always dangerous when I start tinkering with subtraction) and I realized that I’m closing in on my 20th high school reunion. It’s a mere two years away. I had to double check my math because, well, because I’m so damned young, it simply can’t be right. But…carry the one…pie…yep. My twenty is just two years away. Which means I can’t be as young as I think I am. I must be well into my 30s.
Now, an argument could me made that high school reunions aren’t relevant anymore. What, with Facebook and self-indulgent blogs (I’m talking about your blog, not mine. My blog is art), you could say some of us have never actually left high school. Not only do I know what that weird kid who sat in the back of my Spanish class is doing for a living these days (his Linkedin profile says accountant, but really he’s a cashier at Golden Corral), I know what he had for breakfast this morning, and that he’s “psyched to see how this season of Secret Circle turns out.”
And yet, I feel the gravitational pull of the high school reunion. I skipped the 10 year, got stupid drunk at the five year and rode a mechanical bull so I may as well have skipped it, but the 20 year has a certain amount of weight to it. Twenty years is a significant amount of time–plenty of time for my classmates to have grown into interesting human beings.
Which means I have exactly two years to grow into an interesting human being myself. I have a lot of work to do.
There are about eight foreign countries I need to travel to before the reunion. I’m not sure about the specific countries, but I feel like eight is a good, “well traveled,” number to shoot for. What country is hot right now with the ex-patriot crowd? Pakistan? Something with a “stan”? I’ll start with Pakistan, then maybe hit Canada.
I have to find my abs. I can’t remember where I left them (in a bar, probably) but I know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen them.
I have to write a novel. Better yet, I need to write a screenplay, because, frankly, I went to a Georgia public school, so none of us class of ’94 Hoyas can read too good (Go Hoyas!)
I should buy one of those hip hybrid sports cars. The one that Clooney drives. Can you fit two car seats in there?
And any self respecting man should be onto his second marriage by the 20-year reunion. That’s trophy wife territory. Luckily, my wife is trophy hot, so I’m good there. I’ll just buy her a slutty dress and refer to her as Nadia all night long.
That’s a big to-do list to knock off between now and 2014. Fortunately, my high school performance was so underwhelming in every category from sports to grades, that I’ve set the expectations very low. If I show up without a house arrest bracelet on my ankle, people will probably be pleasantly surprised.
I know what you’re thinking. “An Odyssey of Meat”: Great gay-porn title. Sadly, no, that’s not what this is about.
It’s not easy for me to leave the kids, even for a couple of days, but sometimes an assignment pops up that I simply can’t refuse. Like this one: Find the best burger in the state of North Carolina. Sounds like a dream, right? But here’s the catch. Because of familial obligations (somebody has to feed the kids and make sure the TV is on for them all day) I only have 72 hours to do the sampling. My list of burgers to try has reached 25 and continues to grow. I’m not good at math, but that’s like an average of seven burgers a day. I know. I’ve got uptown problems.
Beef. It’s what’s for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. And snacks.
I’m in day two of this Meat Odyssey. Let me describe how it’s gone so far. Wake early, hit the treadmill, drive two hours to a diner in the middle of nowhere, eat a burger with cheese, chili, slaw, get back in the car to drive two hours to an uber-hip gourmet burger place where they put things I can’t even spell on top of their burgers, then run across the street to an old school bar that’s been doing burgers a certain way for 20 years, then back in the car for a two hour drive…
Today, I’ve had five burgers in as many hours. Or is it seven? I don’t know. I’m meat drunk. Dizzy and sluggish and confused. My fingertips are humming and my ears are hot. Is that the sign of a stroke? Am I having a meat stroke?
Much like Odysseus in The Odyssey, I too am learning some things about myself and the world during my journey through North Carolina’s finest cows.
Thing 1) The Black Keys offer the best soundtrack for eating burgers. Burgers are dirty (in a good way). The Black Keys are dirty (in a good way).
Thing 2) I sleep really well in hotel rooms. It could be the fact that I don’t have two three-year-olds waking me up at 2:30 in the a.m. because they want to watch Yogi Bear. But I’m going to say it’s the pillows.
Thing 3) Eating roughly 16 pounds of beef in 72 hours is just as difficult as it sounds. Here’s a metaphor for you: The burger odyssey is a lot like sex. If it goes on for too long, it starts to hurt.
Thing 4) While dining solo is calm and peaceful, sampling seven burgers a day in some of the state’s most unique restaurants and bars isn’t nearly as much fun without my wife and two kids, who would be emptying the salt shaker down their pants at each establishment. The kids do that, not my wife. In other words, I miss my family.
The real question throughout this journey is this: Was Socrates right? Is the key to happiness really moderation? Even eating burgers? I know that burgers are good, therefore a lot of burgers should be a lot of good. But I’m nervous. My belly has this hard, knotty consistency to it and I’ve been slightly nauseous since Burger #2. Will this journey have long-term health implications? Am I entering the Spirit World?
Oh, and my apologies to any Hindu readers of this blog. I’d suggest skipping this week’s entry, which you’ll find incredibly insensitive. My bad
I’m not a tough guy. Ask anyone who knows me. I’ve never been in a fight, I’ve never rebuilt an engine, never seduced a woman (unless you count slowly wearing down the same girl over 19 years as a seduction)…I don’t even have one of those cheesy barb wire tattoos. And yet I still can’t shake the Hemingway notion of what a man is. You know the classic archetype I’m thinking of: A man knows how to throw a punch, drinks too much, speaks plainly, kills things in the woods, takes his shirt off in social situations, hates himself a little bit…
It’s a completely archaic notion of manhood that I don’t resemble at all, except for the drinking and self hatred. But I recently received my first “Dad Knife,” a very manly piece of steel that all self-respecting dads have to carry. Certainly, you remember the little knife that your dad kept in his pocket to do everything from filet a fish to open a Christmas package. My dad was always wielding his blade, even if it wasn’t appropriate. You could ask him to help with your math homework, and somehow, the knife would end up on the table, open and gleaming. Now, I have my own phallic weapon to show off, and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’m sure men of previous generations would label me a “dandy” because I like to do things like read books and cook food (that I didn’t kill myself). I have more than one pair of shoes and I use the internet more for recipes than porn. Sad, I know. But having my first dad knife has reinvigorated my admiration for traditionally manly things like lifting heavy objects and whistling at women I don’t know. So far, the knife has been sitting in my pocket, completely idle, but any day now, my son will come to me with a stick he’s found in the yard and I’ll whittle it into a spear for him. Or a bunny.
So that’s my plan for 2012–whittle many spears. I’m going to try to be more manly. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’m hoping it’ll translate into me getting to shoot more guns and have more sex. It probably won’t. If I’m lucky, it’ll mean I try to teach my kids how to play poker (or at least War) and eat less vegetables. I’m cool with that.
If you’re curious about what exactly a man looks like (get your mind out of the gutter, pervs), check out The Good Men Project, which is a collective of sorts concerned with the notion of manhood, manliness, dads, dudes…all things penis.
Parenthood is magical, there’s no doubt about that. Sometimes, though, it’s more black magic than “kiss the frog” magic. Luckily, 87 percent of the time, being a dad is awesome. Here are a few things that inform that other 13 percent.
- Scraping poop out of big boy underwear…three times a day.
- The nasty looks that other parents at Mighty Might Gymnastics give you when your kid coughs on their kid. In my defense: I don’t care if my kid is patient zero with a wicked strain of chipmunk flu. We’re getting out of the house today!
- Fishing random objects out of the toilet with chopsticks. (Sidenote: chopsticks make excellent retrievers of floating cars, candy wrappers, credit cards…all the little things that end up in the toilet.)
- Suspecting your kid loves iPhone “Paint Sparkles” more than you.
- The constant fear that your two-year-old daughter is going to ask the waiter if he has a penis.