Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Things They Say

Conversations with kids. You never know what kind of gems you’ll be gifted. The following transpired last week with both kids driving to my son’s golf lesson.

“Daddy, our home isn't very fun,” said my daughter in a dejected tone of voice from the back seat of the car.

“No fun? What do you mean? You’ve got that cool tent set up in the office for you and your stuffed animals,” I countered kind of surprised. “You’ve got your own room. That’s pretty good. And your big girl bed.” She was very pleased with herself when we removed the rails from her bed a month ago.

“Well, some day you’ll own your own house,” I continued after a pause. “Do you know when that’s going to be?”

“After college,” said my son from his booster seat in the back.

“That’s right. And after college you’ll get a job, get your own place to live, have your own family, and buy your own house too,” I said wrapping things up.

“Dad, of all the things, I’m not looking forward to kissing the bride,” said my boy.

I suggested to him that some day he may change his mind. He appeared skeptical.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Compiled Quotes, ix

“If you’re not going to tell the truth, at least be accurate.” Lou Duva, boxing trainer [1922]

“Ignorance is not bliss, it is oblivion.” Philip Wylie, author [1902 - 1971]

“Anyone can become angry, that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not easy.” Aristotle, Greek philosopher [384BC-322BC]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Return to the NFL

I mentioned recently how the NFL and I had parted ways. That abstinance turned out to have an expiration date.

October 2004.

Our daughter was born September 2004. She had a restless first couple weeks as exhibited by gobs of crying during the day and resisting the peaceful embrace of a sleepy slumber at night for more crying. Poor, baby. One thing she did like, though, was being carried. If you merely held her and sat down or held her and stood still, she wasn’t going to tolerate that for long. Pick her up and maintain motion.

Wife Klem and I worked in shifts holding her and playing with her. During my shift I would often walk around the house holding her, talking to her, and showing her photos that hung from the wall, even though her eyeballs at that time were probably not visually operable other than seeing fuzzy shapes and colors. I eventually came to turning on ball games, the late season baseball stretch was in progress and the baseball playoffs were on a rapid approach.

The rhythm of the games actually worked out well. Watch a couple pitches, walk around the house with my baby, return for a few more pitches then walk around and talk to her. Repeat process. So my evening shifts were occupied thusly intermixed with a few feeding sessions and diaper changes.

Curious thing. After a few weeks I found that I had enjoyed watching baseball. The World Series concluded with the Sox of Boston beating the St. Louis Cardinlas 4 games to 0. Baseball season was over but I had a longing for more athletics. It was at ths point I boldly substituted football for the playoff baseball. This proved to be agreeable. My NFL sabbatical had come to a close.

To date I still crave my footballs. The viewing experience can be enhanced when my daughter concedes to being held while watching. Being as her football tolerance is low, this presents but a fleeting opportunity.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Birthday Wishes to Mom Klem

It’s possible that Mom Klem is not renowned for her wild ways. Well hear me out.

In high school she had a teacher who occasionally issued assignments on green paper. Mom Klem and her merry band of pranksters, the sneaks, wrote in green ink on these occasions. The befuddled teacher was reduced to straining her eyeballs to read the green on green.

Lent is a time of meat-free Fridays for Catholics. Well, Mom Klem and her clever vixenous girlfriends late on a Friday night during the Lenten season, on more than one occasion, would order a pepperoni pizza pie. That’s right, these wildcats ordered a meat pizza before midnight, the pies would then be cooked, served, and eaten after midnight, now Saturday morning, free of the meat restriction. It would be a failed effort on your part should you aspire to convince me that such a cavalier move was anything short of a boldness personified.

These scamps would frequent the local Catholic school dances on the weekend. One could do little more than hope they were satisfactorily sated by this revelry fearing what madness and havoc they might otherwise instigate.

There’s so much good stuff along the way from which I could easily pull to show examples of your good deeds, Mom. But let’s not get bogged down in the drudgery.

I love you, Mom. Happy birthday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Meet My Bride

December 1995

A work related move took me to another office 60 miles away. I met a cubicle neighbor, we got along well, and we went to a burger franchise and got acquainted over a couple of Whoppers, mine was without mayonnaise.

Returning to the office he introduced me to some new work cohorts, including my neighbor across aisle. She was beautiful! I did what I could to maintain my cool before departing that afternoon.

My neighbor across the aisle and I were both single. A combination of being shy, in addition to being leery of an in-office romance, I fostered a friendly, though clumsy, familiarity. Brief chit chats about weekend events and social goings-on was the typical conversation. She was quick to laugh and had a delightful smile when engaged in conversation. I was hooked hard and continued looking for reasons and topics of discussion.

May 1996

Six months later she turned in her two-weeks notice. She was leaving the company. Mustering up my strength, I managed to ask her out. I got strength in thinking that if she declined, it would be an awkward two weeks but then it’d be over and she’d be gone. But to my delight, she smiled, wrote down her phone number, folded the paper in half, and handed it to me. I think she even brushed at her hair with her hand during this brief exchange.

The evening of our first date had arrived. The conversation was no longer clumsy. We decided on a second date.

Today marks our 11th year as bride and groom! I love you, Sweet Pea. Happy Anniversary.

Our Daughter is Born


We’re having a baby! Wife Klem awakened me at 12:07 am to advise that our daughter was ready to meet us. We woke up the boy and arrived at the hospital at 12:30 am. After a couple phone calls I returned home to leave the boy with my big brother and Wife Klem’s dad who had by now driven in after receiving a pair of rushed requests to baby sit.

Our daughter burgeoned forth at 3:36 am. She ranked in at 8 lbs. 6 oz. Not much eye contact or interest in looking around at anyone or anything, our daughter. Until, that is, she heard Mommy! Her eyes opened wide and looked right at Wife Klem. No interest in anyone else, but lots in Mommy. Probably wants to see from whence that pleasant voice has come those preceding nine months.

Today is our son's first day of school. I called to say that he won’t be in today on account of his new baby sister. The benefit of having a sister pays off immediately for him with his ‘Get out of school’ pass. Before returning to Wife Klem at the hospital I made a round of family phone calls advising of our daughter’s arrival. I also took down a celebratory breakfast of two Eggo waffles and chocolate milk.

She’s really a super kid, this baby, occasionally running through her repertoire of facial expressions. Her rendition of the large unencumbered smile ranking as my favorite.

6:30 pm. Our special in-hospital birthing celebration supper. Shrimp for me, filet mignon (that’s fancy for meat) for Wife Klem each with a single serving sparkling cider and an apple pie dessert. Good. Robust? No, but I don’t think I’d successfully manage to consume a robust meal at this point. Wife Klem? I boldly say no. The baby now beckons for a feeding. Wife Klem complying despite the meal interruption. Generous, she is.

It’s an amazing procedure the human birth. All the way up to and including the doctor holding up the spent placenta and showing us the opening from where the baby emerged. And then he casually chucked it into the garbage bin, the nut. Birth by hatching on the other hand? Much less dramatic. Much more adorable.

We love you, Boogie. Happy birthday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rock Concert

Before our daughter was born I would often take the boy in his stroller, then three years old, and the dog for a weekend morning walk to the nearby park. This one specific morning there was a crew setting up an extensive arrangement of temporary chain link fencing. Something major was underway.


“What’s going on,” I asked a guy.

“George Thoroughgood is playing today,” he replied. Thoroughgood. That’s a rock band. A decade or so beyond their prime, but still, playing here? At the park?

“They’re opening for Blue Oyster Cult,” he continued.

With that my attention was fully piqued! BOC, for those of us in the know, was a favorite rock band of my brothers back in the ‘80s. Having been fortunately furnished with this chance information, my day’s plans were to be altered.

I had a few chores to do, but my boy and I were going to see BOC live! He was excited when I proposed that we come back for a picnic lunch to watch a rock concert. I liked his enthusiasm. Although I venture to say he didn’t really grasp what ‘rock concert’ meant.

Returning home I had to hustle around to complete the yard chores before we went. It was getting close to start time when I had just finished. Stepping into the house I was expecting to have to quickly make sandwiches and pack a lunch. But I was instead greeted by a smiling Wife Klem who had packed lunch for me and the boy and offered to drop us off near the park. How lucky am I? Thanks, Wife Klem.

“Are you ready?! On your feet, or your knees, for the amazing . . . Blue Oyster Cult!!” blared through the sound system as we entered the park. The big ‘80’s rock band had just taken the stage. We navigated around the paying customer seating and luncheoned 50 yards to the left of the stage beyond the metal chain link temporary perimeter fence under a tree on a grassy knoll. Sandwiches in hand, along with binoculars, we took in the scene. Good view of the stage, beach balls bouncing among the crowd, and the money-paying spectators, of which we were not. A $25 ticket price secured them a patch of grass in the sun within their fenced-in confines.

The event was hosted by Harley Davidson. This would be readily attested by the amusingly rugged contingent of Harley gear-wearing folks in attendance, in addition to the numerous limping personnel and various other physical observations seemingly resultant of a hard living.

We stayed for an hour. He had fun, but I sensed that he had his fill when he started to ask after every song, “It’s over, Daddy?”

We got home, put the guy down for his nap. The next day his sister would be born.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Klem’s Corollaries on Life, excerpt iii

(21) Reach for a dictionary once in a while. Look it up.

(22) Dude, if you’re rocking a pony tail and it’s not for a Halloween costume or a prank, cut if off. Who’re you, Steven Segal?

(23) When picking up a heavy object, lift with your legs, not your back.

(24) Vanity license plates. Almost never a good idea.

(25) Happiness comes with seeking satisfaction and fulfillment. Not from the pursuit of happiness.

(26) Have a plan. Periodically review that plan for improvements.

(27) Read constantly. Novels, newspapers, magazines, the Bible. Doesn’t matter, just read something. When you finish it, pick something else to read. Repeat process.

(28) If you feel compelled to criticize, mix in constructive comments.

(29) If you feel you have to mumble, then it’s probably not worth saying. Stop mumbling.

(30) Use spell check.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Involuntary NFL Sabbatical

It was September 1, 1996 at 10:04 am Pacific Time. Sunday morning, Week 1 of football season and a game was just then kicking off.

I’d been a football fan since 1975, I was eight, and my team had always been the Cleveland Browns. Very sadly, the Browns had moved to Baltimore at the conclusion of the previous football season and changed their name to the Baltimore Ravens. My Cleveland Browns no longer existed!

I was tremendously disappointed with this development, but couldn’t be certain how it would affect me until football returned. I’d been a football watcher on Sundays during football season for 20 years. Would I still feel compelled to watch the great pageantry that is professional football even though I was now without a team? For whom, now, should I root? I was riddled with confusion. Today I would find my answers as the first games of the season kicked off across the country.

“Honey, do you want this?” My girlfriend at the time, who later, to my glee, would become my bride, asked if I had an interest in watching the football game that was airing on the television.

Thinking briefly upon Sweet Pea’s query, “No thanks.”

Silly thing, I didn’t know how I would feel about football again until that first kick off of the new season. Here we were. I was surprised at how easily I had turned the page on the NFL. Its draw for me had been extinguished.

[Note: An NFL team returned to Cleveland in 1999. It would be a few years more before I made my peace with the NFL and returned as a spectator.]

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Student Discount

The student discount has been a favorite of mine for many years. You know, you go to the movie theater, zoo, or other fee-for-entry establishments and the student discount is often available for the asking and photo ID verification. I’ve rarely taken advantage of it, but have cherished it each time as one might cherish an unassisted triple play in baseball or a safety in football.

I was last officially a student in June 1990 when I graduated from college. Strictly speaking the student discount was no longer available to me for the balance of my days.

In 1992 I took Scuba diving classes with my kid brother and we became certified divers. We were issued student diver ID cards on the front end of the our training.

It was this student identification card with photo and official student number that I called into use over the years to score this youth-intended discount. I pulled the stunt as recently as last year when Team Klem went to the Los Angeles County Museum of History. My boy likes dinosaurs, we go periodically and let the fella refresh his interest by staring at the ancient bones.

I saved maybe $2 with the discount that afternoon. Wife Klem amusedly suggested that I retire from the student discount racket. Maybe she’s right. I should probably give up the ghost on this. But in a moment of weakness I cannot guarantee that should I be under the influence of a squirrelly mood that I’d be able to muster the needed gumption to once again resist pulling that card from my wallet and showing it to a clerk. I can only try to do my best.

A rascal or a scoundrel, am I? You decide.