Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I can't think outside the cereal box

I 'm not happy this day has arrived — the day Cheerios have become the item I handle the most.

Long ago it was my blankey. Then it was my outdoor basketball, a pad and pen (for drawing space ships, of course), my indoor basketball and finally a keyboard.  

Now it's Cheerios. Yes, I've become "that guy." You know, the poor dude who's constantly on all fours, trying to figure out why his son/daughter seems to actually be secreting these heavenly, whole-grain-oats circles.

Cheerios Guy, or CG, sprinkles them along the edge of the coffee table, hoping CG Jr. will occupy himself with this cereal buffet line long enough for Dad to grab a bathroom break.

CG carefully portions out these folic-acid-laden gems into plastic containers so he can tote them to sporting events, concerts, family barbecues and the like. CG proceeds to pick them up after CG Jr. spills them all over the [insert type of flooring or ground] at said occasions.

CG frantically offers the modified-corn-starch-rich beauties as a peace offering to his screaming offspring in moments of duress.

Now I am CG — probably retribution for years of making fun of CGs who preceded me.

But I can't help wonder whether it's possible for an particularly progressive father to buck the trend. In theory, couldn't a guy sprinkle Frosted Mini Wheats around the living room? Maybe this hypothetical father could coax his son or daughter out of a crying fit with Grape Nuts?

Imagine the possibilities.

Unfortunately, I don't have the guts to think outside the cereal box. I'm a slave to the status quo. I'm relegated to several more years of finding Cheerios in every nook and cranny known to man. 

Luckily, wherever there's a Labor and Delivery unit, there's a new crop of guys waiting to take the title "Cheerios Guy."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

So happy I'm not an NBA rookie's father

As I'm watching the NBA Draft tonight, I'm suddenly aware of how nerve-wracking it would be to be the father of one of these young athletes tonight.

On one hand, it would be awesome to see my son presented with an opportunity to play a game and make a really, really decent living at the same time. To say I would be proud is an understatement.

But then I realize how I nervous I would be. These parents are sending their young-adult sons into the lion's den — a professional association filled with the ample temptations that stem from money and stardom. Not only that, but their offspring must navigate a subculture that — despite what many analysts say — is riddled with greed, excess and unbridled hubris.

What's more, many of these rookies-to-be have only been in college for one year, meaning if this pro basketball gig doesn't work out, there's very little or even nothing to fall back on. Some of these guys undoubtedly will end up living in their parents' basements within a few years.

It would be awesome if all these players were to become 10-year NBA contributors who save their money and set themselves up for a comfortable retirement. It would be great if they were to finish their coursework in the summers, obtaining degrees. And it would be encouraging if they all were to resist the temptations that come with incredible fame.

Unfortunately, a lot of these players are on their way to sad stories of failure. Each parent of a brand-new NBA player can only hope his or her son will cultivate a success story instead.

Monday, June 22, 2009

From the standpoint of disliking these phrases, I dislike these phrases

One thing I won't let my son become, no matter how great he is at sports, is one of these ridiculous ex-jocks who constantly spouts meaningless, needlessly wordy analyses.

Sure, I continue to listen to these blockheads on the radio every time I drive anywhere in my 1994 Park Avenue (jealous?). But does that mean I have to enjoy listening to it?

The majority of these former athletes and lifelong announcers have become comfortable with a vernacular including these painful go-to lines, among many others:

  • "From the standpoint of ..." — At some point a commentator — I'm assuming we have someone like Merril Hoge to thank — must have decided that adding "From the standpoint of [insert description of opinion) before actually stating the opinion makes people sound smarter. Now everyone does it, but NBA "expert" Jalen Rose is far and away the worst of the bunch. By the way ... from the standpoint of Jalen Rose sounding like an uneducated athlete who's trying to sound more intelligent than he is, I think Jalen Rose is an uneducated athlete who's trying to sound more intelligent than he is.
  • "When you talk about ... a guy like ... you have to talk about ..." — Maybe I'm thick in the head, but I think when analysts proclaim their points, they don't need to first tell us they're talking about it. Just get the point. Because when you talk about TV and radio personalities prolonging their sentences so they can fill more time and buy more oversized neckties that they'll proceed to tie in that weird way that forms a huge triangle for the knot, you have to talk about guys like Jalen Rose and NFL super-dud Jesse Palmer.
  • Further, it would be great to see a committee, comprising analysts and players from various sports, meet several times to decide on a list of phrases that shouls no longer be used in postgame interviews. Mainstays such as "the game of [insert sport]," "the offensive end of the [insert type of playing surface]," the defensive end of the [insert type of playing surface]," "playing our game" and "coming out and playing for four quarters" would have to go. Another caveat is that NBA-players-turned-absymal-TV-sidekicks Charles Barkley and Hubert Davis would not be allowed within 200 feet of the meeting room. That's a deal-breaker.

Of course, if my son can make a bunch of coin as a color commentator, I'll probably embrace all of these overused phrases — from the standpoint of liking something you wouldn't normally like.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'll be proud — even if he isn't a Montana

When I found out the son of one of my boyhood sports heroes had committed to play college football for my favorite team, my enthusiasm was tough to veil. But I couldn't very well jump on my desk and sob for joy at my work desk, so the professional in me took over right quick. 

But suffice it to say I am thrilled that Nick Montana will take his late-blooming frame to the University of Washington campus in 2010. Even more so, I am acutely aware of how proud I am and will be of my son, now matter what he ends up being good at (please, please, puh-leese not opera, though.). 

I haven't always thought this would be the case. As I progressed through high school and college, I half-gleefully accepted the notion that I would be one of those ultra-pushy sports dads, force-feeding my son defensive slide drills and ladder sprinting drills — all in the name of a college scholarship. After all, my boy would be joining my life, not the other way around, so he would need to take on my hobbies and goals as his own? It worked for Todd Marinovich's dad, right?

Uh, bad example.

OK, buy I could pattern myself after the Williams' sisters' father, couldn't I? Let's see ... I'll take "self-serving childhood-ruiner" for $500, Alex.

Now that I'm a papa, I look at my 10-month-old son as he pulls himself up to the entertainment unit with the off-limits DVDs for the upteenth time, and I'm just so freakin' thankful that he's healthy and apparently happy (Who really knows, though, right? He could be harboring some seriously scary deep-seeded anger, and I'd have no clue.).

It would be absolute gravy if this little dude were to morph into an athletically gifted, hard-working point guard or 400-meter runner in about 15 years.

The meat and potatoes is simply getting to watch him learn and interact day after day. 

Saturday, June 13, 2009

FD wish list: seven games and doody-free evenings

Considering the tight budget at the FK(T)B household this year, I don't want much for my first Father's Day.

Besides, expensive stuff is wasted on a simpleton such as me. I order a plain cheeseburger 90 percent of the time, no matter how fancy the restaurant; I wouldn't know a fine wine from a low-end wine cooler; and impressive suits make me a nervous wreck (I'm the guy who moves like a robot when wearing sweet togs.).

Here are a few affordable things I really want:
  • A seven-game NBA Finals series. I'm not ready for the high-drama 2009 playoffs to end.
  • More moments of shared laughter with my son. When I get my 10-month-old boy cackling with my variety of juvenile-yet-effective maneuvers, I forget about everything that ails me — for example, the NBA referees.
  • Pau Gasol's nasty hair on a platter. No, I wouldn't donate it to "Locks of Love." I would bring it to local junior high schools as a personal hygiene motivator — much like all those photos of the gross lungs that people develop from smoking. Believe me, between fits of greasy-tendril-induced vomiting, the children would get the idea.
  • Coupons for poopless evenings. Hey, moms always get "free massage" IOUs from their cheapskate kids, so I don't think this request is out of line. Now that my son is downing copious amounts of formula and other foodstuffs, the value of doody-free has expanded like Charles Barkely's [insert your word here — anything from waistline to blood-alcohol content to rap sheet].
  • To see the first pick in the MLB Draft actually become a Hall of Famer. Is there a more inexact science than predicting big-league baseball performance? For once I'd like to see a super-hyped No. 1 pick actually fulfill his expectations. Is that too much to ask? B.J. Surhoff and Phil Nevin evidently think so.
  • 6-foot tall EVERYTHING. Coffee table. End tables. Couches. Stools. Desks. Entertainment unit. I mean the works. I'm so sick of moving stuff out of my paper-eating son's reach. If it were up to me, we would move to a land of giants, buy a slew of well-made ladders and call it good.
If none of these ideas are doable, I'll settle for a ghastly tie covered in pastel-colored basketballs.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hallmark does our work

With my first Father's Day fast approaching, I'm confident to quite confident I'll be receiving a card from my 9 1/2-month-old son. He's just thoughtful like that, plus he's got some spare coin from his part-time job as a toy organizer.

But do I really need another card? A few days ago one of my cousins brought up one of his pet peeves: greeting cards. He especially loathes the ultra-cheesy, poetry-laden variety. Instead, when facing situations that society says call for mushy congratulatory offerings, he prefers writing a letter or finding some other unique way to express his feelings. In his mind, why let Hallmark muck up what he's actually feeling.

That's a refreshing take on a sometimes-stale tradition. I normally write letters to my wife instead of buying cards, and it goes over very well — as far as I know. Also, if you have a particular skill, you can do something really outside the box. Graphic design experience, aptitude for photography or carpentry talent come in handy.

Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates this approach. Many wives are going to immediately assume "hand-written letter instead of same-old card" means "My husband forgot this special day and ran out of time to visit Rite-Aid."

If you're going to scrap the card route, you best be certain it's going to land.

As for me, I certainly see my cousin's point, but seeing as how my son can't talk yet, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt this time around. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Televised births instill terror

When a good friend of mine, whose wife is with child, recently asked me whether child-birth classes are fruitful, I wholeheartedly told him "yes."

What I failed to mention — and what made me frantically call him back a few days later, hoping I wasn't to0 late — was that he should at all costs avoid the requisite video of a live birth.

Please understand that I fully appreciate the beautiful, amazing process of pregnancy and labor. It's unbelievable to see it all unfold — when it's your wife.

When it's not your wife, it's by far the worst thing on television — yes, even worse than "E's" truly laughable roster of reality shows.

Has watching a stranger deliver her baby in agonizing fashion ever helped a prospective dad? It's highly doubtful. Has it ever caused a guy to run for the hills, destined for a life of hermithood? I assume so.

This is the type of advice fathers everywhere need to be sharing with their potential brethren. It's more common to hear general nuggets of truth such as "Your life will never be the same" and "You can't even imagine how much you'll love that tiny bundle of joy." But what men really need is practical information such as "Don't look directly at the placenta" and "Soak in every minute of those first couple days, when you have all the time in the world to just stare at the baby for hours on end."

Fathers, this is a call to action: Our stories must be told. We owe it to those waiting in the wings.