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Thursday, May 28, 2020

9 minutes

9 minutes. I watched, and I still can't understand how you sustain applied violence like that for 9 minutes, without a complete disconnect from normalcy.

9 minutes. Begging, pleading, unable to struggle, and in complete control of 4 officers. I don't give an actual fuck if he was a criminal or not...if he's not an active threat, deadly force is not fucking authorized.

9 minutes. How long is that? I will probably finish writing this post in less time. That's a goddamn eternity in which any reasonable officer had 540 opportunites to take a second and back off to a less violent position. There were 3 officers on him, by the way. One applying pressure over his abdomen. Over his diaphragm, which happens to be a thing we use to fucking breathe. There's a reverse angle a lot of people haven't seen yet, a photo taken from the other side of the street.

9 entire minutes. That's longer than people pay attention, and time to run the commercial break. Modern producers will add a recap after that length of time on any HGTV show. They cannot redecorate this man's death.

9 whole goddamn minutes. To pin a neck for that long, you have to be a fucking sociopath. I grew up with cops, have cop clients, have cop friends. None of them think this was excusable. Hell, my neighbor when I was a kid was a cop who did in fact choke a man to death. That suspect never stopped trying to stab him with the knife, until he was out. The two incidents are apples and platypuses.

9 entire fucking minutes. That was a fucking execution. Note how this one stands out...nobody has brought forth any dirt on him, nobody has printed a story that he was resisting, or overweight, or had underlying conditions. That's because we all saw it for what it was. We all see it for what it is.

We need to remember this for more than 9 fucking minutes. The time for action, for reform, for creating a better path forward is not 9 minutes from now.

It IS now.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Wrong Stuff

I've told some of my old military stories, but only the funny ones. There are more in the repertoire, to be certain. There are also some that just weren't that fun to live through, which I've put off talking about to...well, to anyone really.

I realized on a long think recently that I should probably unbox some of these stories. I can't just tell the funny truths, I have to tell the hard ones as well. I have come to a point where I realize that my son, in idolizing uniformed “good guys”, could take a path he just isn't suited for. You see, there is a very strange, very fucked up paradox I have lived through...yes, the good guys can be good guys, while working in a very fucked up and not good system that doesn't just allow bad apples, it amplifies their effect, their ability, and often their audacity. I really have no idea how to explain this to him correctly at this stage of the game.

Even though the tone of this story, and some others, is negative, I have to say that I'm still proud of my having served, and proud of those serving...but that isn't a blanket forgiveness for assholes. Part of my reason for going down this road is to try to figure out how to tell culture stories without painting with too broad a brush. Still, I'm starting with this story; it is likely my roughest. It was the coffin nail, I think. This was the time when I learned that in a rank-structure system, doing the right thing is truly, frighteningly difficult at times. I was never as quick to do said right thing while in uniform.

My first three years of service were the reason I didn't re-up. My last year in was enjoyable, for a multitude of reasons, really. I matured a bit, which helped immensely. The lying sack of shit I had for a direct supervisor was sent elsewhere, which changed the shop culture a great deal. I had gained enough rank that I really only answered to one superior at a time, instead of being the dumping ground for every E-5 and up's bad day. But there was one more factor that made life uncomfortable in that shop. Many of the other members of the team righteously hated me. This is the story of why.

The topic of today's story is racism, that abhorrent condition that just won't fucking go away, no matter how stupid its practice. I despise it. That's not just a cool thing to say, a correctism, it's an active feeling I have, born from the echoes of my past, concern for my friends, and the fact that in any way I've ever looked at it, it's just a fucking unnatural, nurtured, created hate.

I've discussed racism with Little Danger, and it disgusts me that he even has to be aware it's a thing. He has as much understanding of how someone can hate others as I have of the mathematics of quantum physics. I never want him to witness that kind of hatred, and yet, he lives on planet Earth. It'll happen.

Well, that's far too much preamble, so here we go.

It was my first year in the Air Force. I was still making a lot of really dumb choices, and failing to be self-sufficient. I was a really young 18.

I had a friend in the squadron that had arrived a bit after me; she and I had gone through basic at the same time, and tech school in the same place and time as well. It was natural for us to continue chatting and being friendly. She was also a hot redhead, which drew the attention of a good number of other airmen. Well, there was a day that I learned that not all of that attention was positive.

I was in a car with three other guys from my shop, heading to the chow hall for lunch. The topic of women arose, as often it did. My friend was mentioned, amongst the general discussion of various ladies' potential as a sexual partner. Someone said a thing.

To this day, I don't have a clear memory of who said it. I have a strong suspicion based on further experience, but no honest memory to rely on. If I had, my life at that time would have been much, much easier.

I was in the back seat, as was Airman B. Airman K was in the passenger seat, Airman H driving. And dammit, I don't know who, but someone referred to her as a “N-word-loving bitch”, with a heavy implication that her willingness to date someone other than a white man made her unsuitable to be touched. I was shocked, not just because it was said, but that laughter was the response. I got quiet, turned a bit red, and made my way through lunch. I don't remember anything else about that day, which makes sense given that the rest was normal.

Fast forward a week, and said friend was being friendly with these guys, and there they were, all laughing as if nothing had been said. As if nobody had condemned her for absolutely nothing that made any sense to me. I tried to do the right thing, weighing my options and actions, but not understanding yet that we do not operate in a vacuum, nor do our best intentions.

I told her what was said, letting her know that none of the aforementioned boys wanted to be her friend. That much had been made clear. I still feel like I should have done so, because I think she needed to know that she was being talked about as subhuman. But I really wish I remembered which one had actually said it, because life, through no fault of my own (on this item, at least), was about to take a fairly dramatic left turn, not just for me, but for Airman B as well.

Airman B took leave for a vacation, blissfully visiting family. Airman friend-of-mine, despite her thanking me and promising she wouldn't say anything so as not to get me in trouble with people I had to work with, went to our 1st Sergeant. I don't think I disagree with that choice now, but at the time...well, it was the last day I would think of her as a friend, which was more to do with what followed.

The First Shirt hated racism every bit as much as I do, but had a whole hell of a lot more first hand experience with it than I. I was a skinny white boy, and he was not. He also had absolute authority to investigate and punish whatever the hell he wanted to. I did not.

Imagine my surprise at being ordered to his office. Now, I had some reason to be concerned about that, as I was never the perfect airman, but I couldn't think of any dumbass thing I'd done recently, so cue nervous walk to the “principal's office”.

He grilled me. I got a lecture about proper conduct, and a dressing down I couldn't understand. Then he asked me who said it, and he quoted the exact phrase that I'd only shared with my friend, so I definitely clued in to why I was in the room. I was honest though, and told him I didn't know who said it, just wanted to pass along that things weren't as friendly as she thought.

So the First Sergeant threatened me with prosecution. He told me he'd put me under an Article 15 as if I had said it. I made the point that if I had said it, or condoned it, I wouldn't have told her about it. He was unimpressed and undeterred by that minor point of logic. Against his anger, it could not stand.

My memory did not improve after several more minutes of haranguing and threats. So, in a masterful stroke of investigatory genius, the First Sergeant brought Airman H and Airman K into the room with me.

He told them what I'd said to her, right in front of me. The temperature in the room rose, and I felt the taste of fear I had become accustomed to in school days, sensing an impending ass-beating from a bully. And so a discussion ensued, wherein everyone denied saying anything. The First Sergeant kept up the heat, telling us that we would all burn if we couldn't tell him who said it.

So Airman K and Airman H said it had to be Airman B. But he wasn't there to say otherwise. I was pretty sure one of them was lying, but again, I just didn't remember. I tried to stay silent; surely the word of two was enough.

It wasn't. I was informed in no uncertain terms that if I didn't sign the statement that the First was writing, that I would be prosecuted as well. That I would be labeled racist and drummed out of the service, even though I was the one who did the right fucking thing. It struck me that he didn't want the truth, he just wanted an ass to nail to a wall. I will likely never hate anyone as hard as I did the First Sergeant at that moment. I matured a mile in a minute, and not all in the right way. I resolved to always just keep my fucking mouth shut.

I signed the goddamn statement.

Writing that still hurts. It wasn't who I wanted to be, and it damn well wasn't the lesson that the Shirt should have taught. My honesty wasn't good enough for him, and so I sacrificed it on the altar of self preservation. I've never forgiven that First Sergeant, and I'm fairly certain I still haven't forgiven me.

People wonder how good people can do nothing. It is often a conditioned response. Threatened with loss of livelihood, or even jail, people can be forced into some pretty shady corners.

I'm pretty sure that now, in the same boat, I would have come out swinging and demanded a lawyer advocate before saying a goddamn word more. But at 18, with the consequences so very large, I just didn't see a way forward.

Airman B lost a stripe on his return, damned by three of his fellows. I was ordered by my direct supervisor not to speak to him, so I couldn't even offer a fucking apology, much less an explanation. In our last days on that base together, he would tell me he forgave me, and understood the shitty position I'd been put in. But he also told me that he had wanted to kill me in those first few months, and was glad that he hadn't. Well, that makes two of us.

This was one of maybe a dozen tales of bullshittery I got to live through in my military tenure. There was the time I almost lost a hand to incompetence and fuckery, the second time I clashed with that same First Sergeant, a time I lost a stripe of my own due to that aforementioned lying sack I worked for. I'll tell these tales at some point, I'm sure, but I think we've yanked enough skeletons out of this closet for the day.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Five Things I Think, July 15th

Occasionally, that muse walks up and smacks me in the back of the head.  Having thus been thwacked again today, it comes time to disgorge a wall of words to the blog.

1)  Little Danger turned 9 this week.  For almost a decade, I've been privileged to walk around under the mantle of Dad.  I can't imagine how the days have gone by so quickly, yet there they are, stretched out behind us.  Fortunately, there are some days stretched out ahead as well.  And today doesn't look half bad, either. 
There are days when he can prattle on and batter my frontal lobe into submission under a verbal assault of statements about absolutely nothing.  There are days when this tapdances on my last nerve.  Then I think about the fact that teenage years are just around the corner and I'm going to be starved for more than a 3 word sentence.  Maybe I'll just enjoy the logorrhea.

2) I've recently been recruited to become an assistant coach for Little Danger's football team.  Whereas I am a fan of the game, and a fan of the kid, I have dived ahead into this adventure.  I do have to postpone a bucket trip, but the boy is worth it. 
The challenge, of course, is that I didn't play football at a competitive level at any point.  The good news is that I've been digging through some videos about the fundamentals, and it translates to body mechanics that are similar to the fight choreo I've been teaching for over a couple decades.  Making that transition should be achievable. 
This also gives me an opportunity to do a bit of conditioning on my own dad bod while I'm at it.  This is going to be a wild ride, well out of my comfort zone.  I look forward to it.  (I am also looking forward to the boy resuming his pancake stacks and sacks a plenty.  Oh, yes.)

3) I started playing a new game with a new group, every other week.  This one is Wrath and Glory, the newest RPG in the Warhammer 40k setting.  It's an interesting, if currently rough, game.  The rulebook is a bit disjointed and has been handed off to a new company for a second print and continued development.  Nothing with 40k licensing is ever really easy, it seems.
The game itself follows a Deathwatch kill team, and we are ridiculously overpowered.  Our first session featured us happening to a group of Orks, unleashing a torrent of ammunition as nonstop and brain numbing as a a politician's twitter account.  Gratuitous is the word, I think. 
Laughter and fun were had.  No drama yet, but there is already some foreshadowing about insurmountable odds.  Well, that's why you send Space Marines.

4)  I think I had a great nature encounter with Little Danger.  I walked out of the barn in midday, and had to stop in my tracks.  There, just across our bridge, stood a denizen of the great outdoors, just half hidden by the trees.  I ran, quietly, back inside.  I grabbed the boy and we stealthed our way out, taking a seat in the grass.
"Whose butt is that?" I asked, pointing.  An odd question, you might think, but 1) butts are hilarious to 9 year olds and 2) that's the part we could see.
"A deer!" he replied.  And we watched as she took a step back, revealing her forward half, and stared at us for about 2 minutes before walking off into the tall grass.  I do like the country livin'.

5) I've been deeply examining the amount of scar tissue and baggage I walk around with.  Often, I wear it lightly.  At other times, it feels like a battleship chained to the psyche.  In any case, I think it's time to take the proverbial scalpel to some of it...some of these things feel like they belong to somebody else, that person I used to be.  They probably do. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Five Things I Think, June 3rd

Thinkin'.  Writin'.  Sometimes procrastinatin'.

1) I think sometimes things line up, and you get a Big Weekend.  I just had one of those, filled with lots of experiences of differing type and flavor.  I loved it.
     We worked some tornado clean-up, watched Little Danger's baseball game, and had a gaming day of Dark Heresy (40k).  There was a bit of swimming pool and general relaxation thrown in there as well.  Reinforcing the lesson for LD of "work hard, play hard, relax like a cat." 

2) I think it's refreshing to see communities come together when shit goes down.  I further wish we could come together more often when shit isn't hitting the fan, but I will take what I can get.
     Memorial Day brought a supercell to the north Dayton area, which proceeded to pronounce a hearty "fuck you" with a host of tornadoes.  The biggest of these was a confirmed F-4.  We drove right out of the southern edge of this bad boy about 5 minutes ahead of it.  Little Danger asked how we would get away from a tornado if one happened...well, it turns out the answer was "what we're doing."
     There has been no shortage of volunteers working up that way, from folks grilling and working the food bank to folks bumrushing damage areas to work clean up.  Saturday, Wifefish, Little Danger, and I joined a group in one of those neighborhoods.  I grabbed the chainsaw and we toted the work gloves, water, and even some donuts and coffee to hand out. 
     I can't say we had fun, exactly, but we worked hard for a morning.  We impacted only five homes or so, but if you extrapolate the number of people doing what we did...well, there's a reason they say many hands make light work.  It was rewarding as hell, and if you ever get the chance to be part of disaster relief, do it.  Just do it.  We aren't working in there for days on end, but if everyone gives a few hours, or a few days, the insurmountable eventually becomes recovery. 
    I asked LD how he felt about his morning's work, and we explored that for a bit.  "We filled somebody's bucket", he said.   I love how he gets it.

 Also, that giant kid walking right there next to me?  He's about to turn 9. 

3) I think I am quite happy to see webshows like Critical Role and Shield of Tomorrow becoming so popular.  These gaming sessions on display show that particular magic of shared storytelling that brings adventure and hilarity and even drama to a game table.  People love these shows because they get to share in the fun. 
    Sunday, we played another installment in a Dark Heresy game we've had going for about a decade now.  That may seem a long time, but our games were quite infrequent in the early days. Our GM has a way of making things smooth when we come up with crazy shit to do, and a way of storytelling that immerses a player in the story.  Legends were continued, rugs were jerked from underfoot, confusion reigned, and hilarity ensued.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again...a day spent at the gaming table with good friends and good food is a day well spent. 

4) I think my yard is out of control.  The mower went down, and the repair guys have had it for 2 weeks now.  We have a lot of yard to mow, and I really miss my zero turn with the 60 inch wide cutting deck.  I never thought I would twitch and wish for a chance to mow.  Adulthood is fucking weird.

5) I still love living in the country.  The spring has gifted us with some giant morels, some tree frogs and salamanders, a gazillion lightning bugs, and a planting day wherein we put 197 trees in the ground.  Most of them are growing, though I do have to get out to that field and cut back some grass around them so they can have good light and such.  It is the season for fires and friends and bug spray, and I look forward to it.

Well, that's what I'm thinking today...Happy Monday!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Five Things I Think, Nov 30

Well, dear readers, it seems maybe I have some more thoughts rattling around in this head of mine.  Here they come.

1) I think I am avoiding the scale this week, like so many of us.  I dove headfirst into Turkey Day, and the Friendsgiving that followed.  Since Wifefish makes one of the best turkey wine-lemon-herb rubs known to mankind, I enjoyed it liberally.  And often.  Then the gaming charcuterie just put the coffin nail in me.  Roll me out the door, boys, I'm ready to get at 'er.

2) I think that sometimes, the only solution to your woes is a run of antibiotics.  I recently suffered my way through a head cold that decided it wanted to become a sinus infection of epic proportions.  My nose was producing so much mucus I thought about putting a seashell on it and calling it a snail.  Today, I'm 3 days into said antibiotics, and it's funny how you can feel reunited with oxygen freely entering your lungs without gasping like a landed carp.  I am enjoying life after emigrating back out of East Snotmucustan.

3) I think this is going to be a very, very challenging year professionally.  The changes to the tax laws have produced an absolutely fucking stupid overhaul to the forms which does absolutely fucking nothing except make it a talking point that some dipshit can point to and call "simpler" because of the way the first fucking page looks. 
It invalidates the mental map in my head...for years I have been able to quickly scan the first two pages of a return and spot anything irregular at a literal glance.  Now, just so some chucklefuck can crow into a microphone that it is the size of a postcard, I will have to scan 6 additional schedules.  So your Schedule C (small business) used to flow right onto your it takes a useless fucking detour into a new schedule before it gets there.  Simpler, my ass. 
What this means for me this year is a whole lot of new stress and late nights as I plow through the learning curve and re-map some neurons to memorize the new "simpler" forms.  I have never actually kept a bottle of scotch in the office, but I am considering it for this year.

4) I think I'm geekily excited to start family RPG night.  Little Danger has chosen the Star Wars RPG, and wants to play a smuggler who becomes a rebel spy.  I have had a lifetime of rewarding adventures around a game table with good friends, and I am happy to continue this for him.  Also, Star Wars is inherently cool, so...  

I plan to set our campaign in the Legends universe (where the books and such were before the Disney takeover), a few days after the destruction of the first Death Star.  There's a lot of room to play in a galaxy far, far away.  And since the old expanded universe was shot down by the new movies with a proton torpedo in its exhaust port, I have a huge, ready-made pile of stories I can farm for plots.  It will be interesting to see how he leaves his mark on the galaxy.  I bet when all is said and done, that Little Danger shoots first.   

5)  I think the absolute most annoying thing about Continuing Education in my profession, and probably in a lot of others, is the goddamn bullshit test questions.  More specifically, the answers.  2 wrong answers, 1 right answer, and 1 almost right answer.  The almost right answer is the specific bullshit that annoys. 
I think that we either know the answer or don't, and I personally cannot fucking stand it when I have to carefully parse through each option just to make sure that what I am selecting as the right answer is in fact the right answer.  I know the shit, or I don't know it, and trying to trick me into answering wrong is not effective testing.  I have hated this shit since I was 8 years old.  I will likely hate it when I am 78. 

A few more expletives this time around, it seems.  Well, that's what happens when I come across things that grind my gears.  I hope your day/week/month/holiday season is freaking excellent. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Five Things I Think, Nov 21

I have, of course, become a most infrequent writer. Here are my thoughts today.

  1. I think I am one proud papa. In the last post, I discussed Little Danger's football season as it started. Well, here we are at the finish. He played almost every down this year, on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Tight End on O-Line, and DE/DT at various times on defense, depending on whether they wanted him in the backfield or neutralizing a blocker. There's pride point one...
    A quick aside is necessary, I feel. Pride has become a lazy word in modern English. We use it for several feelings, several types of pride. Personal accomplishment, hubris, joy in another's accomplishments...I wish to point out that I am in category 3 here. This is that kind of pride that we should have in great measure, that feeling you get for someone else when they achieve, learn, and influence.
    By my unofficial count, he finished the season with only 2 games with no sacks. In those two, he helped cause sacks by being double, even triple teamed. He's a goddamn wrecking ball to the opponent backfield. Same with pancakes on the offensive side, I think he had just one game without putting a player on the turf. I lost count on tackles, and tackles for loss. He had 2 receptions on 2 point conversions. He played his heart out most of the time, in short. There's pride point two...

    The team pulled off two last minute miracle wins in the playoffs, which I may detail at another time. They were truly crazy plays, and I avoided cardiac arrest narrowly. They went to the Super Bowl, and though they did not win said Super Bowl, they fought their way into the history books for their league. They lost in double overtime, the first time in this league that a game had finished in 2ndOT. Double. Goddamn. Overtime. I mean, if you're gonna lose, that's the way to do it. They went down swinging, to mix sports metaphors. That would be pride point three...
    While Little Danger was appropriately wrecked emotionally after the game, it faded to a feeling of, if not happiness, then pride (category 1) in his team and his play by the end of the day. “We made history”, he said. Many parents were disappointed but honestly, for me, I couldn't even be was a hell of a game, and I watched my boy make some amazing key plays...a couple huge blocks to open holes, a moment where he parted the two double teaming him like Moses and the Red Sea, and a massive TD saving tackle in the first OT period that got him so amped he jumped into one of his coaches arm's like Baby coming out of the corner. And yes, I had the time of my life watching.
    It was a hell of a season, and now we have a break of about a minute and a half before basketball games start. Raising a jock is not for the weak.

  2. I think it is quite strange living in 2018 (for another month or so). The level of importance people ascribe to the weirdest, most petty shit reaffirms in my mind that even though we have evolved and developed, our biology just hasn't caught up to the “first world” social strata. We need to think of things, due to biological imperatives, in survival mode, and it makes a lot of otherwise OK human beings do some really questionable shit as they become territorial over some of the stupidest things. For a robust example, see modern politics or anything blown up into social media drama in the last ten minutes. 

  3. I think Fleetwood Mac is fucking amazing. We had the opportunity to see them in concert recently, and we carpe'd that diem like your very own Dangerboy at a beer buffet. Little Danger lit up like a Christmas Tree, and enjoyed the crap out of it. Wifefish got to cross a thing off her bucket list, always a happy thing. I soaked it in and squealed like a group of adolescent girls sitting on a pile of squeaky toys in a 70s car chase.
    As a drummer, watching Mick Fleetwood behind that drum set is a special treat. The absolute, sheer, childlike joy he takes in making music is a gift I hope he never stops giving. I smiled every time he made Drum Face. And I am still smiling long after, and reflecting on the way I make music. And damn, but he has fun. The obligatory drum solo was interactive and hilarious, as he asked the audience why you should never leave a drummer alone on stage...because “He will unleash the hoooouuuuuuunnnnddddssss!!!”  Dude then went on a drum rampage with their current hand percussionist.  Tasty, tasty stuff.  

    The new lineup is pretty good, too. Yeah, I could go all sentimental about the lack of Lindsey, but let's face it: Fleetwood Mac is an ode to what people who get on each other's nerves can create together...great music, yes, but also great drama.

  1. I think Ford motor company can kiss my ass. We have a Ford Focus that has problems with its car alarm. At any random time, if locked, it may decide it wants to sing us the song of its people. 4 trips to the service department have not fixed this problem.
    We had to go to arbitration over this thing.  I prepared heavily, discussing the case with my very favorite attorney, and had my case ready to lay out.  Their position looked like it had been written by an intern, and we were pleased to show up to a situation where it appeared the arbitrator was tired of their shit before we even began.  
    The ruling is a fun read, at least for one who went toe to toe vs big company lawyer and won.  It basically says in legalese, "Well, your points are interesting but ultimately full of shit."  I find it pretty goddamn annoying that they decided to fight us on this, rather than just fix the goddamn car.  So now, thanks to the lemon law, they must repurchase the vehicle, plus all interest and incidental charges.  
    We will, of course, not be buying another fucking Ford.  This annoys me; my first vehicle was a badass Ford van.  My next vehicle will be anything but a fucking Ford, as their attempt to let us twist in the wind with a schizophrenic car alarm left far more than a bad taste in my mouth. 

  2. I think it's crazy that we are already staring down the barrel of holiday season. One thing I will say for a football schedule, it makes the days fly. I'm girding my loins to get my shopping done, and loosening my belt in anticipation of the ridiculous amounts of badass food in my future.

And that's what I think.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Nature of Pride, vol 1

In case you don't know, Little Danger has decided his goal in life is to be a Pro Football Player.  Once upon a time this was cute, like when he watched the OSU Buckeyes championship game while very young, and decided he wanted to be a "Buckleguy".

As time has gone on, it appears this is a true calling.  He loves the foosballs.  Loves it.  Can't get enough.  The boy asked Santa for a tackle dummy.  Santa brought him a blocking pad too.  If this is his dream, well, I guess my face will have some cleat marks as I work to lift him to it.

Fortunately for him, the kid has talent.  This is year 2 of playing wee football, and he is tearing it up.  This post, in case you need a warning label, is not just humor but bragging.  I am about to engage in that most parental of things, bragging on the kid.

I am in love with how much Little Danger cares.  I've been watching him at practice, helping the other kids who don't get it yet (they are combined 1st and 2nd graders, and he helps the younger ones.)  I've watched when a teammate falls down, or feels like they can't make the long run to the tree across the field and back.  He is right there, helping them up, running with one arm on a teammate's back, pushing them without giving them shit.  Convincing a kid that just doesn't want to run to go ahead and sprint the last 20 yards.  He may be future team captain material, and I didn't teach him how to do that, at least not directly. 

The summer saw him at multiple football camps, because Wifefish believes as I do that we CAN spoil a kid, but not with stuff.  We are spoiling him with experiences and love, and that's just the way it's going to be.  He worked skill drills with NFL players, Buckeye players, and UD players before he showed up to his first practice.

The boys put down a good, solid game 1 last week.  The O-line, on which Little Danger features as tight end, allowed zero sacks.  At the bantam level, that's pretty impressive.  Watching 1st and 2nd graders play football should often be set to Yakity Sax, and yet they managed a solid game.  The boys served up pancakes like they were the griddle chefs at IHOP, and treated the opposing defense like Gandalf treated the Balrog on the bridge.


It was exciting, to say the least.

Saturday, we attended game 2 of the season.  This was an away game against a historically tough opponent.  This opponent's system has produced more than one NFL player.  Little Danger was, of course, psyched and ready to rock.

I have to admit, his first half was not his best play.  He missed three blocks that he should have made, for losses on each.  Maybe he wasn't awake, maybe he wasn't focused, but where he had been a goddamn human wall the previous week, tying up two players at a time, he had become a turnstile. And I don't mean he got beat by the opposing DE, I mean he just one handed it and turned his body the wrong way and watched the guy go by, like he was bullfighting instead of blocking.  Wifefish and I both commented that he needed to wake up. 

I don't know what the coaches said to him at halftime.  Little Danger tells me he decided to show them what they wanted.  His second half, he lit up like a radioactive Christmas tree.  He started serving up the pancakes and holding the line.  No one would go past him for the rest of the game.  He fired off a key lead block for a massive gain up the left side.

Where he really lit it off, though, was at defensive tackle.  Suddenly, his beast was out of the cage.  It was time for Little Danger to give out some free hugs.


He blasted through the line, and I remember saying "Oh my dear word."  Which might strike many of you as odd, but you must recall that parents are not allowed our full range of expression at kid's games, so I couldn't scream out "FUCK YEAH!!!!" as I might ordinarily do.  Hot on the QB's heels, he was there for the hand off to the running back and, well, let's just say he escorted that young man to the ground for his appointment with the turf.

Thus began a spree of tackles for loss.  Three sacks joined his 4 pancakes, and a couple more tackles for loss sprinkled on top.  Coaches were high fiving him.  Hell, one coach ran over and high fived ME, and parents around us started sharing in the frivolity.

"Watch number 5!" the opposing coaches yelled.  I said "Now here's where they start double teaming him."  Indeed, that's exactly what they did.  One of the parents mentioned that I must be disappointed by this, as LD wouldn't be scoring any more sacks.

"Nope," I said, "This means somebody else gets to make a play."  Evidently I was waxing prophetic, as the two kids driving my boy backwards left a hole for one of his teammates to go render their QB horizontal.  "They can double team him all day," I continued, "That just makes him happy."

So, a hard fought defensive battle came to a close, and the boys scored their second win, just 6-0.
"What did you feed him today?" The coach asked.  A banana and a granola bar.

He feeds himself on his dreams, though.  I am proud of him.  Not just because he has talent, and not in any way for me, excepting perhaps the elation of that pride.  I am proud that he overcame a rough start and found his motivation.  I am proud that he still gets team play, and is perfectly happy to make a hole for someone else to make a play...he beams when he high fives you for doing something good.

This of course, makes me beam the light of the Proud Pappa forth unto the world as well.  So, forgive me if I just can't shut up about him.  It's just the nature of pride. 

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