Not Going to Stand on Ceremony…

Turkey

It felt like my writing stalled recently. I spent most of a creatively dry November with no ideas for articles, submitting my resume for Counterintelligence jobs at the NSA (seriously, when I get bored, I apply for jobs I have no chance of obtaining). Then Thanksgiving came…

A 13 pound turkey I had brined for 2 days hit the smoker on November 21st at 10 am. We were celebrating Thanksgiving a day early so there wouldn’t be any friction between the ex and me about who would have Abby on the actual day. The holiday back and forth battle has been going strong since 2008 and frankly, I’d welcome a colonoscopy over future feuding. So Katie and I now celebrate all the big holidays early to avoid any further confrontations for the sake of the kiddo and our sanity.

I texted Abby earlier in the week and told her she was more than welcome to invite her boyfriend, Cam, for dinner that day. I wasn’t sure if he would come, as texts to my daughter are replied to as often as the NSA regarding my resume. In fact, I’d bet there is a higher likelihood that the dog would vocally express his love for me before Abby will respond to a text. But Cam did end up coming over.

We sat down together to dig in, but not before I said, “We’re not going to stand on ceremony,” a phrase frequently uttered by my father-in-law. After dinner, we all gathered around the old PS4 and played Little Big Planet 3. It was about 10 minutes in when Cam decided he was bored and started sabotaging the team by killing the rest of us. I quickly realized I didn’t like playing games with this kid and an overwhelming urge to kill him in real life took over me. But I referred myself to last month’s article and recited “I want Abby to be happy. This kid makes Abby happy.” until the urge to kill him subsided.

Later in the evening Abby mentioned all the driving Cam had been doing since getting his license two weeks earlier. Between picking Abby up at her mother’s house two towns over, not to mention the joyriding, Cam was filling his tank twice a week. I felt for the boy and decided, on the down low, to slip him $20 and tell him it was for gas. It’s something my father-in-law (The Rick) would do.

The Rick…

My father-in-law has, as long as I’ve known him, been an easygoing guy. He enjoys beer, football and is incredibly social…and I mean social to a fault. This guy will introduce himself to everyone. “Become the known” is one of his favorite mottos. From the coat checker to the damn performer, if given the opportunity, he will say hello and ask you your name. For the sake of discretion in today’s article, we’ll just call him “The Rick.” There are many Ricks, but none like him. I know this sounds like some introduction from The Big Lebowski and I’m describing The Dude, but the difference is that this is a real person.

It’s only in the last month I have found myself trying to follow the blueprint my father-in-law indirectly laid out for me. The man is a master at the “how to” on almost anything. He is the most even keel person I’ve ever known. These days, it seems to be one of the rarest commodities.

I have never seen The Rick lose his temper ever…except, ironically, Thanksgiving 2012 when his dog, Rowdy, jumped up on the dinner table and took a turkey leg. I thought it was hilarious until I saw The Rick’s face. I’m almost certain that dog would’ve ceased to exist if he wasn’t hosting family. But I don’t blame him for being upset. If it were my dog, he’d STILL be sleeping outside. In his defense though, in 2015, I farted and blamed Rowdy at a family function. I regret nothing as I do not like Rowdy, but I digress.

I’d bet it’s a strange view from the outside looking in at the dynamic of a father looking out for not only his daughter, but the boy said daughter likes. But I look at it as being part of an elite club. Not being the father of a daughter, but being a strong father-like figure to another man that may require a little bit of guidance and advice (when asked for it). THAT’S what makes this club elite in my opinion. I know there may come a day in the future when Abby will bring home the man she’s chosen to spend the rest of her life with and I hope to have this father-in-law skill as fine tuned as The Rick.

I find myself now asking WWTRD (What Would The Rick Do)? If this man, father of two daughters, doesn’t know, I know I’m fucked.

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Meet the Parents…No, The Other Ones…

 

Katie and I met Abby’s boyfriend this weekend. Even I find that sentence unbelievable. More in the sense that she’s growing up so fast and less that she would ever have a boyfriend. FACT: My daughter is stunning, and I never doubted this day would come.

 

So with Abby having an official boyfriend, it was time for meet and greet. Cameron “Cam” already met Abby’s mom last week and now it was our turn. I can’t recall meeting divorced parents of anyone I ever dated, so I kind of felt for Cam. I’m sure having to run the parent gauntlet twice is grueling! 

 

For a few days leading up to the meeting, I imagined what Cam was going to be like. I wondered what would be the first thing he’d say as he walked through my door. I know the image of a rebel in a black leather jacket is a very dated notion, but that’s what he was wearing in the scenario I created. I had a delusional picture in my mind of me giving him some generic “protective father speech and cautioning him to be good. It didn’t go like that…at all. 

 

It was nothing like you’d see on some poorly written sitcom on TGIF and it wasn’t Meet the Parents. He wasn’t rude or offensive. There was no overbearing father speech. It was surprisingly tame. Cam walked into the house, introduced himself, shook my hand firmly and made eye contact. The kid must have done the research and read the playbook on what to do when meeting a girl’s father. He didn’t say much else. He was calm that whole time he was over. They say the loudest guy in a meeting typically knows the least; I could tell he was not that type of person. Unrelated, I’m almost always the loudest guy in meetings.

 

Katie and I spent most of the evening in the kitchen, about 20 feet away from the couch where Cam and Abby were loungingKatie was working on her computer while I tried my damnedest not to stare at the kid with his arm around my daughter. It felt so strange to like someone and not at the same time. I wanted to like him because Abby likes him. I wanted to kill him because Abby likes him. I wanted to grab his arm, break it and tell him to keep his hands to himself. But I also wanted to make sure he wasn’t uncomfortable…maybe a little uneasy though. Ultimately, I had to behave. 

 

I kept telling myself, “I want Abby to be happy. This thing she found in the wild makes her happy. So, if she’s happy, I’m happy…But if I choke him, I’ll be happy. I shouldn’t choke him. I could. But I won’t.” I THINK this is the closest I’ll ever get to being in the right frame of mind in this particular situation. And if you know me, you know kudos are in order!

 

As the evening went on, he became a little more relaxed. He talked about his dog and even shared his theory that SpongeBob SquarePants is actually a tampon (and proceeded to explain how this theory works)I laughed. Later in the week I Googled this theory to see if it was an original. Sadly, it was not. But originality is a rare commodity these days, so I didn’t fault the boy. I gave him partial credit for trying to talk to me. Plus, I got a pretty good chuckle out of it. 

 

I want to say I played it cool…more or less. But a father can never be 100% cool when meeting his daughter’s boyfriend. That would be impossible. In the end I ask myself a simple question: Is Cam okay in my book? Sure. Are we going fishing next weekend? Fuck no. This kid’s trying to get his grubby paws on my daughter. I don’t even like it when people grab a fry from my plate and I NEVER lend my movies…now you’re trying to date my daughter?! I got my eye on you, bubba. I mean, for the love of ham and swiss, I JUST finished writing an article last month about when I taught her to ride a bike! Now this kid is going to just stroll in and commandeer 90% of her free time? But that’s how the story goes…and keeps going. It’s supposed to change and evolve. Frankly, half the shit Abby says is aimless and tends to go on longer than it should. At least Cam, the new sound wall, is taking over in that department too…sucker.

 

Speaking of the ever evolving and things I’m proud ofThe Moron Editorial turns 10 years old this month. I know I’ve told the story countless times before, so I’m going for one of those Netflix style hyper-recaps before I finish today’s article. The Moron Editorial started in text form and then evolved into emailblasts as I needed more than the 160 characters my phone allotted me. Yes, it was that long ago! But a few technologically geriatric (and tragically daft) fools hit “reply all” requesting to be removed, in turn encouraging MORE FOOLS to make the same requestonly exacerbating the thread.  So, in October of 2008, I created The Moron Editorial – my own website where people could read my (at the time daily) posts.

 

I’ve always been a laugh whore. They say the saddest people are champions of comedy. I can see that. When I first started this project, it was during one of the hardest times in my life. In fact, it has given me the confidence to pursue other projects. Because of THIS project, I have published a book. I placed 2nd in the Maryland Film Festival screenwriter’s competition in 2017 and was a second-round finalist in this year’s Austin Film Festival’s pilot script competition. I’m currently working on a new script for next year’s film competition and HOPE to publish my next book. 

 

I look back at both Abby and my writing after 10 years, and I couldn’t be more impressed with or prouder of both. Luckily, my work isn’t dating.

Stockholm in Baltimore…

Over the last decade, and many flights to Texas, I found myself gradually becoming more of a visitor in Texas than a resident. The sites that were once home have changed over the years and become foreign. I even told my sister a few months ago that my life in Texas sometimes feels like someone else’s fading memory. It would be insane to sum up what is now 10 years as of September 2018 since I moved to Maryland, but I’ll give it a shot.

Earlier this year, I wrote about how 2008 was very difficult for me after my divorce was finalized and Abby moved to Maryland. I was an absolute wreck for the next 8 months. It was only after I saved some cash, found a roommate on Craigslist, packed up what l could fit into my car and made the somewhat blind leap to Baltimore to be closer to her, did things get better…somewhat.

I had a 2007 Kia Spectra. This was the car that made the 1500 mile trek with me from Texas. That was the only real bond I ever had with the god damn thing. I bought it brand new. It was supposed to be a midsized sedan, but it felt small…really small…like it came with 20 clowns, small. I hated that fucking car. I got bamboozled by the salesman into buying it because I was in dire need of a vehicle and he knew it. The monthly payments were incredibly high and so was the interest rate.

Long story short, it took some time to find a decent paying job in Baltimore. Money was tight and I couldn’t swing the car payments. A few months after settling in Baltimore, my Kia was repossessed. One particularly freezing night in January 2009, I heard a truck outside my apartment. I took a peek out the window to see that my car was about to be repossessed and towed away. In a panic I ran out into the 20 degree cold and approached the tow truck driver. You could tell this guy was ready to defend himself as I’m sure he’d seen the crazy look of many confrontational people before me, ready to put up a fight. They wanted their car. They needed their car. I slowed down my approach with raised hands showing there was no ill will.

Still a little jumpy he said, “Hey man, I gotta take the car. I don’t want any problems.” I nodded and, like Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive when he catches up with Harrison Ford, replied “I don’t give a fuck about the car. I’m GLAD this fucking thing is gone. Can I just get my daughter’s things and car seat before you haul it away?” The guy looked perplexed. I guess he’d never seen anyone welcome him and have an indifferent attitude about the whole situation before. Or maybe he’d seen The Fugitive and appreciated the inflection. He allowed me to get Abby’s stuff before taking the car.

I’m usually not one to find a silver lining. I’m not a glass half full kind of guy. When something like a car repossession happens, it induces stress and panic. But I wasn’t stressed. I didn’t panic. Instead, I learned how to use the Baltimore Public Transit System.

I learned when and where I had to be to catch the bus to get to work. I learned (through many mistakes) which buses took you into Baltimore’s shadiest neighborhoods (there are a lot more than you’d think). I sat at bus stops through unforgiving winters and rather tame Baltimore summers (compared to Texas in July). But I also got to know Baltimore on a level that no tourist, or even some lifelong residents, were acquainted with. Even stranger than that, I grew an appreciation for Baltimore as I got to know it.

I’m not sure how it happened. After losing a few jobs, having my bike stolen, being 1500 miles away from family, somehow, over time, I came to know Baltimore as home. But at the same time, I got to see Abby almost every other weekend, and having her in my life again trumped whatever Baltimore could ever throw at me. It paled in comparison to the perpetual discomfort I felt when Abby wasn’t around.

Last week, I flew back to Texas to visit my sister and family. We had our first (of hopefully many) game night on Saturday. Sitting at a table with my little sister and cousins felt just like old times. It’s a thing of beauty to see that no one missed a beat, like we picked up exactly where we left off. I couldn’t have asked for a better night.

But on Sunday as I flew over Maryland and caught a view of Annapolis, I couldn’t help but feel at home. I used to think I’d still feel like a stranger to Maryland even after living there for years. I thought I would be calling Texas home for the rest of my days. Ironically, it’s the other way around now. Stranger than that, I’m thinking about where I’m going to live next. It won’t be Maryland. But I know I won’t be hanging my hat in Texas either – are you fuckin kidding me? It’s hot as FUCK there! West Coast? Somewhere in the mountains, maybe?

Moving to Maryland has been an eye opening experience. It showed me that this world, specifically my little world, is a lot bigger than I thought it was. Does this mean I now wear Ravens gear and root for the Orioles? Well, let’s not get crazy.

Icarus, The Film Buff…

Through the 80s, skateboarding became wildly popular. Yes, I am fully aware you can date skateboarding back to its birth sometime around the 50s. But I’m talking vert ramp, Christian Slater/Gleaming the Cube, street skateboarding and the rise of the man himself, Tony Hawk. To me, THAT’S when EVERYONE wanted to be a skater.

Around the same time, other street sports started to gain recognition as well. Rollerblading started to build momentum, pun intended. Everyone was on wheels in one way or another. Since I didn’t have the proper balance required to handle a skateboard, rollerblades were my fallback. At the time, it was thought that inline skates were going to take over skateboards…of course, they didn’t.

For Christmas 1991, my aunt bought me a pair of rollerblades. It got so crazy, rollerblades coming with so many accessories and upgrades, you couldn’t get a decent pair without spending a pretty penny. Wheels came is more colors than one could count. They made them with extra cushioning to prevent blisters. They made some that were super light to make you feel like Icarus, ready to race the speed of sound! I didn’t get any of those upgrades. I got the base model. But don’t get me wrong, I was stoked! I loved them!

Summer break came before I knew it and there wasn’t much to do in the summer, living in the country in Texas, but to skate and rent movies…and that’s what I did. A local mom n pop shop, Pay Less Video, had duplicated pretty much everything Blockbuster had done, but was cheaper. VHS rentals, that’s right I said VHS, came in a hard plastic clamshell and were about a dollar to rent. Say what you want, there was no better feeling to a kid (at that time) than opening a clamshell VHS and popping it in the VCR!

As I’ve recounted endlessly in previous articles, we didn’t have cable. We had about 8 channels that came in with less than perfect reception. Two of those channels were PBS and Univision (a Spanish channel) which to a 12 year old kid, were LESS interesting to watch than a non-working channel showing only static. Movies were all I had as a source of entertainment. So every few days I’d beg my father for cash to rent movies from Pay Less Video. It was difficult to get a few bucks from the old man. He was tight with his money to say the least.

On one particular day, the old man gave me 3 bucks. This generous act was very much unexpected. But I wasn’t going to look this frugal gift horse in the mouth. I took the cash and grabbed my skates. It had reached 105 degrees. I felt sweat trickle down the small of my back instantly as I walked out the door. I put on my skates, tucked the cash in my right skate and took off.

The trek was 3 miles, 50/50 uphill and downhill. But when it’s 105 outside it feels like an uphill battle both ways with anchors on your shoulders. The air diffraction caused by record breaking heat coming off the unforgiving asphalt should have been my first sign to turn around and maybe read a book. But I wasn’t much of a reader. I wanted a god damn movie and I wanted a god damn shower. There wasn’t a god damn thing that was going to deter me that day. I pushed through all of it knowing I’d be at Pay Less soon enough.

When I did finally get there, obviously drenched in sweat, I sat in front of the store’s curb to catch my breath. I reached into my right skate to recover what was certainly going to the most disgusting $3 ever documented. But it wasn’t there. A new coat of panic sweat made its presence felt under the layer of sweat that already existed. It was a bitter and colder sweat like the first time you’re asked if you were listening and you said yes (but you weren’t) and then they ask you to repeat what was just said.

I checked the other skate, fully knowing that it wasn’t going to be there. I took both of them off and double checked. I triple checked and even took off my socks. There sat Icarus, sunburned and penniless as he cried barefoot on the curb of Pay Less Video’s storefront. The world was little darker that day.

I eventually put all my gear back on and skated back home. I can’t recall any of my thoughts on that trip back in soaked socks and rollerblades. I couldn’t tell you what I told my father IF I even told him anything. Was there a lesson here? “Use your pockets next time, you dumb shitbird!” Truth was, there was no lesson to take from the occurrence. The universe is just a strange and cruel bitch sometimes.

Here’s another spoonful of strange to tack on to today’s article:

It just so happened that I was at the grocery store last weekend and saw a guy on rollerblades. I thought about what a coincidence it was that I had been working on this article for weeks and right before I published it, I see my first rollerblading nincompoop since yours truly! What are the odds? Seriously, what are they!?! Have you seen on inline skates recently? Let me rephrase; have you seen anyone NOT being ironic? I like to do some research (if it’s needed) when I write an article. At one point, I recall Googling rollerblades and only one Google result. It said, “Go back to 1991 and destroy your phone booth time traveling machine, you tool!” Jesus, those fucking things disappeared faster than overpriced Hypercolor Shirts. Which, come to think of it, my aunt also bought me. That woman is a badass.

I’m Your Biggest Fan…

It was a weekend in Fall of 2008 and I was teaching Abby how to ride her bike without training wheels. We woke up early and found a deserted grocery store parking lot in Catonsville. I spent the majority of the morning getting more than my fair share of cardio, sucking air as I galloped behind her with a hand on the back of the seat, like some cheesy Nationwide Insurance commercial, reassuring her that I wasn’t going to let go.

We developed a sophisticated system where in the event I wasn’t able to keep up with her or she felt like she was going to lose control and the front wheel started to wobble, I’d yell, “BAIL!” and she would. Most of the time she would just bail preemptively, fearful of meeting the asphalt with her face. But she never did; she always landed on her feet.

After an hour or so she got to where she’d ride about 10 feet without bailing. Around this time I pulled out my LG Rumor 2 and started recording. I watched as she took off like a rocket, tearing up asphalt like a fearless daredevil. I still have that grainy video stored in a portable hard drive.

Yeah, 2008 was full of incredible events. The world felt like it was changing at blinding speeds. We had our first black president. I moved 1,500 miles from Texas to Maryland. I even finally set up a Facebook profile and started pulling away from MySpace (even though most of Earth had abandoned it in 2006).

Just like MySpace 10 years ago, I’m deleting my personal Facebook page in the coming weeks. I would have deleted it a year ago, but for Abby’s 15th birthday, I have compiled all of my Facebook posts about her over the last 10 years. Every morning for the past year, I’ve checked my “Memories” on Facebook that mention Abby in one way or another. I would take a screenshot with my phone and upload it into a file that now holds somewhere around 270 screenshots of updates/posts. Let it be a quote and/or conversation, it’s all there and currently being converted into a book.

Yes, a picture is worth 1,000 words…but sometimes 150 characters tell a pretty fucking good story too.

2018 has held some remarkable achievements. Strangely, they revolve around multiples of 5. I’m fond of multiples of 5. Katie and I recently celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. It’s actually 10 years to the day when I made my last trip up to Maryland to see Abby for her 5th birthday, then decided to pack up my shit and make the permanent move to be close to her. But the biggest mark in 2018 is my daughter turning 15.

A few weeks ago, in a drunken stupor, I babbled on about how much I really do love this kid. I told her I was her biggest fan. No bullshit, I’m a fan of many things…film, music, comic books…but I follow this kid like a high school punk rock band groupie, handing out homemade flyers on neon colored paper to everyone at school. I’m always floored when I see her and pester her as much as I can before she runs into her room to escape me. Can’t blame her – I’m really annoying!

Without Abby, I most certainly wouldn’t be here today. The kid gave me a reason to live when I wasn’t looking for one. She also gave me reasons to worry, like any helicopter father would. But I find myself less and less worried about her as she turns 15. Still worried, mind you, but less so. I know that there will be some rough patches here and there where Dad won’t be there to save the day. I’m not completely fine with that, but I get it. It’s called life and that’s how it rolls.

But I know now, just like I did when she was 5, that she’ll land on her feet.

Bad Barry…

We made our way westbound on 50 towards DC on a cloudy Saturday. Katie and I were heading to Vienna, Virginia to take Abby to a concert. You’d think, based on how Abby’s giddy, lit match to a full powder keg, behavior she was en route to see Eminem at Bonaroo, inevitably to be surrounded by tens of thousands of loud and obnoxious fans, water and beer splashing inbound from every direction. There would be body surfing and madness, the likes of which none in attendance could imagine… Nope, we were on our way to Barry Manilow.

I think it was some time in 2013 when Abby and I watched Hellboy 2. There’s a scene when Hellboy and his buddy Abe are both drowning their sorrows with a few beers and begin to sing along to Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” as it plays in the background. She fell in love with Barry right then and there. Later on, she started downloading other hits from Barry. Less than a year later, she made her own playlist of nothing but Barry.

Twenty minutes into what was going to be a 90 minute drive, Abby commandeered the Bluetooth and proceeded to play all of Barry Manilow’s hits. Through the rear view, I watched this 14 year old girl lip sync and dance to every song for the next hour. I considered myself fortunate that all I was supposed to do that day was drive. At $100 a ticket, Katie and I determined only one adult needed to accompany this little fan. Abby’s backseat antics were the closest I was going to get to seeing Barry Manilow, and I was more than okay with that.

When I pulled up to the passenger drop off at the Wolf Trap, it looked like recess at a nearby senior living center. The smell of Icy Hot was strong as herds of geriatric Manilow fans formed a line anxiously waiting to get in. The order went Rose, Dorothy, Blanche, Sophia and repeat. Before you knew it, you didn’t know if you were at a Manilow concert or a Golden Girls cosplay contest. I couldn’t get over how many people came for this show!

I also noticed that the only men there had been clearly dragged reluctantly, with their arms crossed much like a toddler being denied a toy at Wal-Mart. It was abundantly clear their only function was to drive their significant other and applaud in between songs…though the latter was never agreed to. I assume the men had negotiated before they had arrived that there was a snowball’s chance in Hell they would be waving a lighter with the rest of the crowd. No, those tired hands were going to remain tucked tightly under those Brut-scented, pits.

I waved to Katie and Abby and told them to have fun. I drove to a nearby pub called Caboose Brewing Company, settled in and enjoyed a beer as I waited for the concert to finish. I began to think about what I was like going to concerts when I was her age. In the mid-90s, when I was Abby’s age, I would go out of my way to find the craziest concerts in my hometown of Denton, Texas. If it wasn’t overcrowded, with bodies pressed against strangers like canned sardines marinating in cheap Lone Star Beer, bouncing around left and right, I wouldn’t be there. I needed ear piercing noise that made my heart flutter! I needed the madness. I thrived best in melodic chaos. In my mind, life was nothing without a local concert at the (now closed) Good Bad Art Collective, where ONLY experimental music was hosted.

She walked out of that concert with a t-shirt, pictures and the biggest shit-eating grin. She had stories as well, one about how Barry got upset with the band as they started a song in the wrong key. He yelled, “We fucked the song up!” in frustration. THAT I might have paid to see. Later in the show, Barry performed his famous “Copacabana.” It was quite the spectacle as the 74 year old Manilow started “grinding on one of the dancers.” Abby was pretty descriptive about him rubbing his dusty nether regions on other dancers on stage, Abby called him “Bad Barry” for the rest of the night when addressing him. I laughed uncontrollably. Needless to say, she was on cloud 9 the rest of the night.

Parenting often feels like a wild car ride as you sit in the driver’s seat topping out at breakneck speeds with no steering wheel. It feels like chaos when all you’re trying to do is get a pulse on your kid’s life and find out how her day went. But I will look back at days like this last weekend and certainly appreciate them. Yes, it may be a while before I’ll be able to forget the story of “Bad Barry” gyrating his titanium hips on stage… but it will really be the memory of an extremely excited teenage kid emphatically singing “Can’t Smile Without You” as if she was performing tonight, in my backseat through my rear view that will remain in my mind for years to come.

I later posted on this Facebook:

If anyone was wondering who the youngest person (VOLUNTARILY) in attendance at Barry Manilow at the Wolf Trap in Virginia, it was my Abby.

The “HalitoSisters”…

There was once a 3 year-old little girl who would wake up at the fucking crack of dawn to run into her parents’ room to inform them that she was A) Awake and B) Hungry. Every morning her father was rudely awoken from a peaceful sleep by the pitter-patter of little feet sprinting across the 2nd floor apartment, followed by a tactical dropkick of the master bedroom door. This was her daily method and, I must say, it was incredibly effective.

Her father didn’t need an alarm for work, for it was a guarantee that the child would alert him of the new day. This was convenient during weekdays, as this would also assure his employer he’d never be late. But it was torture come the weekend.

I look back at those days and mostly smile now. But it wasn’t just the bull in a china shop approach the child used to get our attention, it was how up-close and personal the kid was once she was in the room. She would come right up the bridge of my nose and say “Good morning, Daddy. I’m hhhhhhhhungry!” When the morning breath made contact, it was equal to smelling salts waking a football player…hell, who am I kidding, it could pull patients out of comas. At the time, her breath was a little pungent, but very endearing. This little girl greeted her father FIRST every morning; no greater feeling in the world.

That was in 2006. Let’s fast forward to 2018.

Abby and I went to the IMAX the weekend the new Avengers movie came out. We ended up grabbing some breakfast and catching an 8:30 am showtime. There was some serious father/daughter bonding that day and it was delightful. As the kiddo gets a little older, days like this become fewer and far between. But that’s the way it goes.

The movie was great. It didn’t fall short of clever one-liners that had the audience laughing, myself and Abby included. But, as we sat in the theater, I was convinced someone was ripping serious ass the entire time. It must have been so gut-bustingly hilarious to someone else in that auditorium that it loosened their sphincter as a result.

The movie finished and we made our way back to the car. We went back and forth about how much we both thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was then, it hit me. It was HER breath that had been distracting me the whole movie! The smell was unimaginable… It was like a Christmas Carol and I was Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by 3 ghosts…that actually smelled of death! It hit me harder than it did back in 2006 and the green stink lines coming out of her mouth weren’t anywhere in the vicinity of “endearing.”

I confronted her about her breath. I asked her if she had brushed her teeth. Keep in mind, this has been an ongoing question/battle for years. When she was around 8, she used to lie about brushing. I never met anyone so against brushing their teeth like Abby. Katie and I became sleuths. We noticed her toothbrush used to be bone dry. SHE got savvy to that and then just started wetting the toothbrush. THE NEXT STEP IS BRUSHING, and she STILL wouldn’t do it!

After I told Abby her breath was foul, I was certain she’d be insulted. She wasn’t. She actually started laughing when I addressed her pungent breath! That’s this generation for ya. They’ve heard and seen it all and there’s very little that will get under their skin. Which makes sense since they usually deal with a national travesty before they’ve even had their morning Juul or belittled 50 people via social media that morning! #LordoftheFlies

The irony in all of this, and most certainly not lost on me, was that my father used to rag on me about my breath when I was a kid. “Apestas!” he used to scream all the time, which translates to “You reek!” My father used to ask me if I had brushed my teeth…with shit. Truth was, I hated nothing more than brushing my fucking teeth.

On top of that, as I was writing this article, Katie told me HER mother used to rag on her about her breath! Low and behold, the smelly circle of life. We sat at the kitchen table and had a good laugh about Abby’s constant lying back when about brushing her teeth and how frequently our parents complained about our breath as kids.

The day we got back home from the movie, we gave Katie a brief recap of the movie and how awesome the father/daughter time was. I noticed Katie’s breath was a little ripe as well. To her defense, her back went out a couple weeks ago, making it difficult to get around and doing anything that was once routine. Regardless, I dubbed Katie and Abby the “HalitoSisters” which, as always, way funnier to me than to them. Although, based on Katie’s breath hitting a 7 out of 10 on the breath scale, I did understand Katie’s mother a little better that day.