Tuesday, December 27, 2005


It’s over.

Thank God.

We did the Christmas Eve family thing, the Christmas Day family thing and the Day After Christmas work thing, but today the family and I did the let’s stay in bed till Noon thing immediately followed by the laze around the house all day thing.

That’s a lot of things.

Almost everything worked the way it was designed; the sole exception being the set of speakers my father purchased instead of the Surround Sound system I requested.  Blame it on an over-zealous, under-trained salesman and my Dad’s unfamiliarity with modern technology, but it’s all good.  That’s why God invented receipts and 30 day return policies.

Lex was pleased with her gifts; the Bratz Festival (her description, not mine) satisfied on all levels.  Rhonda liked her DVDs, will like her new Razor phone and should like all her new clothing (that’s a mortal lock because she selected everything before her mom plunked down the charge card).

Me?  I’m a happy gamer and the proud owner of a new Xbox 360, thanks to the generosity of my missus and the timely assistance of the posse at the local Electronics Boutique.  Rhonda and the boys down the mall attempted to pull a Christmas Eve, double-cross fake-out, but it didn’t work because of the tag attached to the ersatz empty box.  A bit of advice to any potential grifters reading this: Never alert your mark by signing your work.

The key to a successful scam is subtlety.

After today’s lazy recovery, tomorrow starts the return to a regular writing schedule, followed by a resumption of regular bookstore hours.  Legerdemain is rolling towards the finish line (the next scene is Ducalion telling Keith the story of the Teacher and how he lost his family, a tale I’ve known forever but only alluded to in print) and Oogie Boogie Bounce is still searching for a home.  I’m taking a suggestion from J. A. Konrath’s recent essay and planning for 2006 to be a banner year.

Or at least a bit more newsworthy.

But Then Again, You’ll Have This . . .    

Saturday, December 17, 2005

RIP John Spencer

Yet another thing that sucks about getting older: The steady flow of beloved actors, artists and writers crossing from this world to the next. I hope there are stages and libraries on the other side of the Pearly Gates.

But Then Again, You'll Have This . . .

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ain't My Baby No More . . .

Suddenly, I understand.

It’s not the aches, pains or old man sounds I emit at the slightest movement. It’s not the grey in my beard or the chrome on my dome. It’s not my oldest son crossing that final threshold to adulthood tomorrow (Happy Birthday Nate) or my youngest son’s continuing struggle toward the same.

It’s this:

Gorgeous, isn’t she?

In less than a month, she’ll be 10 years old. Double digits baby, and we all know what that means. Pre-teen is the technical term, but there’s nothing technical about dealing with a young lady. Technically, the same applies to dealing with any lady, but that’s a different Vent.

Thanks to a convergence in weather and work, I have a rare Thursday off and was able to attend Lexy’s Holiday Concert, which showcased the burgeoning musical talents of her and her school mates. The preparation phase of today’s performance was interesting, as I watched Lexy choose an outfit and fuss with her hair (which is one of –if not the only- best thing about her developing maturity: her ability to dress and groom herself without parental assistance). The selection of proper footwear seemed to stall things for a moment, given the icy conditions and skirt length, but eventually a choice was made, one I heartily supported even if I didn’t understand it.

I went to the school and found a seat in the bleachers, flanked on the right by students and on the left by parents. One father had his hands full with a squirming toddler and another dad had to keep shushing his son who was reciting the stationary refrain of the old-time classic “Are we there yet.” I chuckled at their travails and remembered all the times I wrestled and shushed.

Those days are long gone.

I looked across the makeshift auditorium and spotted Lexy. We exchanged waves and upturned thumbs, but that was the extent of our pre-event communication. Lex didn’t seem too bothered by the lack of long-distance father-daughter bonding and resumed whispering and giggling with her friends.

That’s when it hit me.

She’s growing up. She’s no longer a baby (a fact I internalized a long time ago), nor is she a toddler (a fact I still have difficulty accepting). The percentage of a day she’s under my direct supervision wouldn’t classify her for part-time status if she worked for me and the amount of influence I wield with my daughter pales when compared to the authority I have over my staff.

Constant care is now an ethereal concept, no longer the top line on a daily to-do list. My coaching role is now restricted to pre-game prep and post-game analysis, regardless of my desire to call in plays from the sideline. My headset’s been confiscated.

Anyway, the choir sang, the band played, but the show opened with a medley of tunes played by a gaggle of fourth graders blowing into plastic Precorders (Yup, you read that correctly: Precorders, which I assume has more to do with unit cost and ease of operation than musical aesthetics). No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pick Lexy’s playing out of the crowd, but I saw her head bobbing and fingers wiggling so I’m assuming she did fine, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t distracted.

The Elmo crowd on my side of the gym and the Bratz Doll contingent across the way was a wake up call. Lexy’s not the only one aging and she’s not the only one doing it subtly. If it takes distance to recognize her maturity, it shouldn’t surprise me that I can’t see it in the mirror that’s two feet in front of my face.

Actually, it’s more like six inches when I’m not wearing my glasses.

But Then Again, You’ll Have This . . .

That’s my best girl in the red sweater.
December 15, 2005.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Countdown . . .

Two weeks and counting and it’s all over but the shouting.

Early mornings and late nights; low balances and high bills.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Ch-

Uh, uh uh.  You can’t make me say the WORD, and not because of inclusionary, non-denominational political correctness.  I won’t use any of the other words either.

People in the mall call me Scrooge, but I quickly point out their error.  I’m not a Scrooge.  I wouldn’t make Bob work on the 25th and I’m quite fond of a hot stove filled with plenty of coals.

No, in the twelfth month of every year, I’m struck by the sudden urge to hitch up the dog and head into Whoville.

Peace?  Joy?  Goodwill to men?  Catch me after 2:00 PM on the twenty-fourth.

Until then?

You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch.

But Then Again, You’ll Have This . . .