Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mr F and I went to the Homecoming Parade A While Back. (A [Mostly] Photo Essay)

Two weeks ago, I got to march in the Homecoming Parade for our school.

Only I did not and I blame Sweetie for that because Sweetie, I am 78% sure, said that people who came to the Homecoming Parade that day were going to march in it, and that was a big part of my motivation for going.

Not for me to march in the parade: for Mr F to march in the parade.

I am getting ahead of myself.

Mr F and Mr Bunches are in kindergarten now, all-day kindergarten, real school that takes real field trips and does real events that I can sometimes be a part of, and about a month ago, Sweetie came to me and said, more or less, that there was going to be a Homecoming Parade and that the boys, Mr F and Mr Bunches got to be in it.

That is a subject of some controversy, because Sweetie swears she never said be in it but I swear she did, or at least I got it into my head that they got to be in the parade, which is the same exact thing as far as I am concerned.  Who cares why I think things? The important thing is that I think them.

So Sweetie was going to go with one of the boys, and wanted to know if I could go with the other of the boys but for various work-related reasons I could not go, at the time, and Sweetie then planned on going with Mr Bunches, because she had recently done a lot of activities for and with Mr F and felt that it was Mr Bunches' turn to get some Mommy Time.

Which was fine except as you'll remember Mr F recently broke his head and he has been wearing first a bandage and then a helmet on that head and having to go to the doctors and is prohibited by those doctors from doing things like "jumping on a trampoline" and "swimming" and all of that makes me feel extra-sorry for Mr F these days and as the day of The Boys Marching I Am Sure Sweetie Said That They Were Marching In The Homecoming Parade approached, I felt more and more bad for Mr F because, I imagined, they would be marching in the parade -- I NEED TO REITERATE THAT A LOT BECAUSE I DID NOT IMAGINE THAT IT WAS TOLD TO ME-- and all these kids would have their parents with them

(in my mind, all the other parents are just as devoted to their kids/willing to leave work early on a Friday as me)

and Sweetie would be with Mr Bunches and poor Mr F would be the only kid in the parade without a parent, he'd probably have to march with the Vice Principal who would be mean about it, plus he's got that helmet on which he doesn't seem to mind but you never know, and so I felt terrible because in my mind this was an awful day for Mr F, who, honestly, probably wouldn't have cared but again: IT'S WHAT I THINK THAT COUNTS.

Then, I got lucky and one hearing canceled and I had some extra time and I moved some stuff around and I took a half-day off and voila, as Julia Gillard (the prime minister of Australia) might say (well, she might say it) I was able to come march in the parade with Mr F!

I announced to Sweetie that I was able to march in the parade with Mr F:

Me:  I am able to take that day off, half of it, so I can march in the parade with Mr F.

Sweetie: They are not marching in the parade, they are just watching it.

Me: *has entire belief system disintegrated in mere moments, begins to doubt all reality, asks if we are having pizza for dinner.*
 Despite the fact that our marriage had apparently been based on a lie -- or at least the "discussing the boys watching the Homecoming parade" portion of our marriage was lie-based -- we made it to the day of the parade and I left work at noon and we went to the boys' school, where we had to first pass the incredible security that they apply to visitors at this middle school: we had to go into the office, and I had to say "I am here for the parade."

"Okay," the secretary said, and asked us to sign in, and then buzzed us through without even requiring an ID card, DNA sample, etc etc so I'm pretty sure that the FBI is going to get all PATRIOT act-y on them because as an honest American I turned the secretary in as a member of Al Qaeda.  Nobody is going to kidnap my kid by claiming to be his parent and be there for a parade, especially not me.

Then I got to Mr F's room while Sweetie went to Mr Bunches' room.

I actually walked to his classroom with Mr F, and his aide, because they were on a break from class, so me and Mr F and his aide who introduced herself to me but need not have bothered because I forgot her name so quickly that I actually forgot who she was before she told me, walked to the class, where the rest of the students were being given rules for the parade that we were NOT walking in.

(I was still holding out hope we might actually walk in the parade.)

The rules for the parade were more or less "Don't do anything" and also the plan was that since people would probably be throwing out candy (YAY!) the kids were not to go into the road to get candy but were to let the adults do that (DOUBLE YAY!) and the adults would give the candy to the teacher to take back to the classroom and divide among the students (WAIT WHAT?) and with that, we lined up and we got ready to walk to the parade.

This is me and Mr F lined up to get ready to walk to the parade. 

He's trying to pretend I'm not embarrassing him by taking pictures of him.

The little girl to his left asked us a lot of questions about who I was and what I was doing there as it turned out that there were almost no parents there besides me, and Sweetie, and one parent who tried to get in front of me every time I took a picture, because apparently the other parents all don't care about their kids at all, and also they probably knew nobody was marching in the parade.

That little girl has a name and no I don't remember it.  

When we started out on the three-ish block walk to the parade route, Mr F and I were firmly ensconced at the back of the line.  The teachers and aides and Camera Hog Mom were spread out along the class and seemed to all know each other and more surprisingly to want to talk to each other.  I instantly disliked most of them partly for that reason and partly because I do not like people.

We did not keep up the pace.  I blame Mr F.

I mean, I'm not trying to be rude but he walks really slow, and also he is very interested in houses and paths and leaves and slight depressions in the lawn and other leaves etc etc and I took the opportunity to be educational by pointing out things, like "That's a house." And "It's green."

We made it to the parade route, and were told to sit in a line.  Mr F was excited by the whole thing:

And within a few minutes of getting there, Mr Bunches' class came rolling up.  (That's Mr Bunches in the red jacket there.)

Luckily, we had arrived about 40 minutes before the parade starts, and there is nothing a bunch of kindergartners love more than a chance to sit quietly on a sunny day. 

We killed time by looking at other kindergartners, all of whom weren't even 50% as cute or nice or honest or talented or smart or special or destined-for-greatness as Mr F and Mr Bunches (just being honest here, folks) and by breaking up little seed pods that were on the ground.  (This is what people did before smart phones.)

Mr Bunches got Parade Fever, too:

But never reached the level of excitement generated by Mr F:

The parade began with a dash of pizzazz --- great, now I'm hungry for pizzas-- as a police car rolled by with its lights silently rotating. 

Then we got the football team on a fire truck, combining the fear that the football players would instinctively make fun of me with the concern that if there were to be a fire somewhere, those people were screwed.

Then there were Flag Girls, I think.  It was very hard to follow what was going on without commentators.  It gave me a new appreciation for that hard work that Matt Lauer does on Thanksgiving.

Then came a band that did not play and/or wear uniforms.  When you see a bunch of people marching and carrying instruments and playing and wearing uniforms, you think "Oh, a band!" When you see a bunch of people in street clothes carrying stuff and walking around, you think "Oh, looters broke into the music store."  (Looters who can walk in rows.)

Then there was this lady.  She represented, I think, "This Lady."

Mr F was thrilled when he was given a sticker urging him to vote "Yes" on the upcoming referendum:

But that's probably because Mr F is really into local politics.

Next up: I don't know.  Skateboard Club, or something?  I have to be honest: Whenever I see two or more teenagers in one spot, I get very nervous, more nervous than those people in the opening scenes of Law & Order ought to be because they are always about to stumble across a dead body.  I didn't like teens when I was one, and I'm deeply suspicious of them now that I am far removed from them.  So I was pretty tense all afternoon in case someone made fun of me or stole my wallet or invented Facebook or something.

This is the Middleton Cardinal.  I was not nervous about him.

Then there was:  Kids, In Shirts.

Most of the floats were (A) made on golf carts, and (B) made little sense.  This one was based on "The Lion King," and had a sign that said "Pride Rock" on it. 

It was followed by kids wearing animal masks that immediately made me think we were going to part of a post-apocalyptic gang fight.

Then came the cheerleaders, not cheering.  NOBODY DID ANYTHING IN THIS PARADE.  It was the most lackluster parade I have ever seen, in that it lacked so much luster, it had negative luster.  If this is what parades have come to, I am not surprised that nobody goes to them anymore except people in Saturday Evening Post magazine covers.

This float was Witches Or Something.

This float was Canary Jail (guessing.)

This was the Drill Team.  They did a little dance that was not in any kind of rhythm and appeared not to have been rehearsed.  But if you focus in on the little boys in red in the middle of the picture, they are enthralled.  Those boys became men that day.

Next up, MODEL UN.  Or Flag Society.  Is that a thing? Do high schoolers do any of this stuff? 

This, I believe, is a throwback float celebrating the "Wobblies" labor movement.

Princesses of the World, Unite!  Also, photo club:

These guys were a band on a big truck with the singer doing a horrible version of Brown-Eyed Girl that, not to be a prude, but really it shouldn't have been sung because as they went by a row of kindergartners they were singing about making love in the green grass, and the Drill Team had already gotten some of those kids pretty riled up.

These were kids.

I thought maybe "MUN" meant "Model UN" but if that's the case, what were all those flags? What were all those flags?

I couldn't ponder that because the National Security Agency had a float in the parade:

Just kidding: It was a very cool and completely inexplicable Star Wars float, which I ought to have realized would be in there because Star Wars is everywhere.

Then, the Ultimate Frisbee club "marched" on by.

As did some representatives of the Balloon AntiDefamation Club.

Then there were floats based on Pixar movies which seemed weird at first until I realized that these highs schoolers grew up watching Pixar movies which made me feel really really old and also hate and fear them even more for their youth.

All too soon (I'm lying) the fun (lying again) was over and Mr F and I headed back to get into our car and go home.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I admit, I am easily distracted by suspenders but there is some good information in this post.

I often tell people I am a "suspenders and a belt" kind of guy, which, if you think about it, makes me sound kind of weird.  I mean, who wears suspenders these days?  Nobody.  Or do they? I don't get out a lot.

Suspenders were kind of big back in the 1980s, when we went through various crazes like "cargo pants" and "suspenders" and "pink Tommy Hilfiger shirts" which I kind of liked but anyway, I digress because I'm not talking about suspenders, I'm talking about this site I just found called DealDash which sounds like it's a race or something but it's not really.

What DealDash is, is a safe place to get cool stuff for less: it's an auction site, but not like other sites where you might not get the stuff you want, or where you have to buy bids and never get them back if you lose.

You know what I'm talking about, right? Those "penny auction" sites where you buy bids for a ton of money, then bid on things like iPads and don't win and you're out your bids so it's like a big con.

Deal Dash isn't like that.  Yes, it's an auction site, yes you buy bids, but NO, there's really no risk which is why I thought of that suspenders-and-belt thing: the idea behind that saying is to reduce the odds of something (your pants) going wrong (dropping off of you while you are meeting someone important, like the Dalai Lama or the guy who invented Tootsie Roll pops.)

 With Deal Dash, you create an account (free!) and then buy bids-- you pay as little as 15 cents for a bid and they have all these sales all the time to let you get bids for really cheap.

Then you bid on the items you want -- they've got Playstation 3, cameras, gift cards, a taco server rack about which I first thought "Lame" but then instantly decided I wanted really a lot -- and if you don't get the item and you're a first-time bidder, you get your bids back.

NO risk!  (That's the suspenders)

Or, if you don't get the item, you can then just buy it at the regular on-site price and get your bids back, too!

NO risk!  (That's the belt.)

And if you buy something and don't like it, Deal Dash has a 100% no-questions-asked-money back guarantee.

NO risk! (That's... um... some new kind of space-age pants supporter.  Laser Supports!)

So I'm pretty big on Deal Dash right now, and I think I'm gonna go get me that taco rack before Sweetie wakes up and starts looking for her... I mean our... credit card.  I'll see you over there, as I am sure that I have convinced you to GO TRY DEAL DASH.

(The capital letters did it, right? ALWAYS WORKS.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

250=1: Story 18

Millard Wafers Has Won The War.

Millard Wafers got his name from an inside joke his parents had, one they never told him, and so he was in the dark about it his whole entire life.  On his deathbed, his last words would be “My name is Millard Wafers, and I have won the war,” but that was years away from now.

For now, for right now, Millard is running a marathon nobody knows about, an inside story of his life he never even told his family about, not even Jack – Jackie Wafers, Millard calls him in his head (never in reality) – and Jack was the child Millard talked to most, late at night, as they watched talk-show comedians tell jokes about the day’s events before slipping away to bed.

Millard counts his steps: 17,676, 17,677 and so on. He listens to music (today, “Clair de Lune”) and runs his secret marathon, a course he had mapped out at age 23 and returned to each year on a day when he told everyone he had to go get supplies for the restaurant. He didn’t need to. He lied. Each year, he lied and went and ran his own private marathon.  Each year he kept track of his time. Each year, he ran it in about the same length of time.

Millard Wafers loved his life, and loved that nobody knew about the marathons.  He loved that part equally with the rest of his life, not more, not less: just so.


In 250=1, I write short stories that are exactly 250 words long, counting the title.

Read more here. Because, why not? It's not like you're in Okkervil River or something.