Thursday, December 23, 2010

How did he do that?!?

When I was a teenager, I did not think my parents knew anything.  There was no possible way they knew the problems I was facing growing up.  How could they?  They were old and not in high school trying to fit in, falling in and out of love with girls, fighting for popularity but trying to seem indifferent, trying to figure out what to do on the weekend, worrying if that one special girl liked me, or if they would score the winning goal in the tournament against Lincoln High (which, I did, by the way...but that story is for another time).  No, they had no idea what I was going through.
Dad, I don't need your advice about how I look and getting through customs!

When I turned twenty (or thereabouts), I started to see that my parents actually did know a thing or two.  Not everything, of course, but some of time, they got it right.  Thirty, yeah, they were pretty smart and they knew a lot more than I gave them credit for.  At thirty, I also began to realize that I knew things that teenagers did not know.  I also realized, later into my thirties, that what I thought was significant in my twenties was really not that important.  When I missed that New Year's party because I was sick and missed seeing that girl, who's name escapes me, it really wasn't going to be the end of the world, even though I thought then that it went on, and now I barely remember why I wanted to see her in the first place.

I was learning that I will never stop learning.  Life's lessons would never stop, and that was okay.  What scares me now, at nearly forty, is that I think I have a pretty good grasp on things, but I am aware that I still have a lot more to learn.  Of course, I wonder, now more than ever, how much information my parents have at their young age and what they can still teach me.  And I wonder what it is that I think I know now will turn out to be quite insignificant in another ten years.

The part that scares me the most is, I see what my nine year-old son considers significant moments in his life.  He is petrified that he will have the "worst Christmas ever" because he isn't going to get a Corinthian battle helmet.  According to him, all he is going to get is a thousand Star Wars figures and nothing else.  Boy, life is rough for the little guy, huh?  He is confused about Santa, worried about being teased because he is wearing a "puffy" jacket (its actually a pretty nice ski jacket, but you can't tell him that...he thinks parents don't know anything), and concerned that we do not care about him because we "force" him to eat his veggies at dinner.

So, it makes me chuckle inside when these world-ending events are expressed through his words and frustrations, knowing that I cannot say anything to him that will make him think we actually know a thing or, we have about another 12 years before that happens.  But, back to the part that scares me the most...what is it that I think I know now and that is cause for deep concern on my part, that my parents are secretly chuckling about in their motor-home, as they enjoy retirement in warm and sunny Arizona?  What do my parents know that I have yet to figure out?  One hint of the power of experience and knowledge came to fruition just today...

On occasion, my dad will send me e-mails with a link to some funny website, or some neat thing someone has done somewhere in the world.  Usually the link is related to something I like; for example, one recent link was about a model railroad set-up in Germany that was so grand the people who built it charge admission just for anyone interested in taking a gander at the miniature world.  Based on the link, I would consider buying a plane ticket to Germany just to have the chance at seeing this amazing model.  Another link may be of a Ferrari on a race track, or a photo contest in North Carolina where I might have a chance at winning a prize.  Whatever the link, historically, it has always had some significance and was, 99.9% of the time, of some interest to me.  But his last e-mail with a link embedded in it, left me feeling baffled.  I had no idea why he sent it to me...until today.

My dad's last e-mail (received yesterday), was a link to a Jacques Pepin video on how to make an omelet.  I cannot recall ever expressing a desire to learn how to create the perfect omelet, at least not within my dad's listening space.  As I was watching this strange video, I kept waiting to see something pop up on the screen and scare me half to death (my dad is a great prankster), or wondering when the pretty French lady was going to enter the screen, but neither happened.  No, this video was exactly what it said it was; "This is how you should cook an omelet."  Plain and simple.  Confused, I closed the window and went on about my day, not once thinking about the link, until today.

Here is where it gets this power he has something I get to look forward to?  Can he see the future?

Yesterday ended without a lot of exciting events and my dad's e-mail was sitting in my brain's recycling bin, waiting to be dumped out with the rest of the useless junk that is stored in there.  Fortunately, much like my computer, I forget to hit the empty button and clean out the trivial items in my noggin.  This morning, I awoke to my son knocking on my bedroom door.  His simple question, "Dad, will you help me make breakfast?"  Sure, I said as I somehow managed to muster the strength to roll out of bed...literally, roll out.

Once I found my socks, and shirt, my next task was to find my glasses so that I could see where I was going.  The glasses did not help much, since my brain was still foggy from the deep sleep I was enjoying so much.  But, I managed to make it downstairs to see a few ingredients and a cookbook on the island in the kitchen.  Leaning over the book was my son.  Apparently, he is enjoying this cooking thing, I thought silently. That thought was immediately followed with, oh geez, what is he trying to make...and will I have to eat it?

"Dad, will you help me make an omelet?"

My mouth twisted in a bewildered manner, my eyes widened with a mystified gaze, and my eyebrow rose with bemusement.  I couldn't repeat the expression if I tried...not even for a million bucks.  Did he just ask me if I would help him make an omelet?

How did he do that?  How did my dad know that I would need to know how to make an omelet the next day?  What told him to send me a link that I would have little interest in, only to find out that I really needed that enlightenment?  At that moment, I wished that I could have looked at my dad, thanked him, hugged him, and forced him to sit down with me and teach me everything that he knows...and, also, partake in the upcoming omelet.  Like my son, however, I have to learn these things on my time...through life's little lessons and experiences, but how cool will this ride be!  Yippee!  I'm going to be able to tell the future, just like Dad!

So, Dad, if you are reading this, thank you.  Not only for sending me the perfect link, just when I needed it most, but for everything you have done for me and for everything you have not done for me.  I can now appreciate what you have gone through - making choices of when to teach, when to back off and let me fall, when to pick me up and carry me, and when to stand tall and say he's my boy (hopefully once or twice I made you feel proud!).  If I am half the dad to G that you are to me, my boy has a pretty good chance.  And, thank you very much for the very tasty omelet this was perfect. 

How to make an omelet - Click HERE

A very cool train set - Click HERE

I never thought I'd say this, but, thank you BOTH for teaching me how to cook!
Thanks for ALL of the awesome Christmases!

Monday, December 20, 2010

What have I created???

Being unemployed around the holidays does have its perks.  Not many, but some.  One of those perks is that I can spend more time with my son while he is on Winter Break and teach him some pretty neat things that I would not have been able to if I had a job.  Don't get me wrong, I really, really, really, wish I had a job right now, but...

Anyway, the last lesson he learned from me was about cooking.  Yes, I said cooking.  Thanks to my mother teaching me when I was a kid (see, Mom, I did listen to some things you said!), I have some inkling of a idea of what I am supposed to do while in the kitchen.  My feeble attempt to pass the minimal knowledge I have on to my son is met with the same enthusiasm I must have shown when I was the pupil.  Sorry, Mom, I should have listened more!  Maybe he will retain the lessons, like I did, somehow...hopefully.

The main lesson I try to always teach him is, a good cook always cleans up after him or herself.  This is the main lesson my mother taught me, but now that I am wiser, I am wondering if she really believed that, or if it was just a ploy to get me to clean up after her, instead of her after me, like any other day.  Either way, I am using the lesson for both reasons, now.  Yes, you should clean up after yourself, but something tells me a top-notch chef has his/her own crew to clean up after them...but don't tell that to my son.

Another lesson I was trying to teach him was that a good cook knows the taste of different spices and foods and is able to mix-and-match items that would taste good together without needing someone else to tell them it would work.  For example, if I am preparing a dish that calls for cheddar cheese and I, uhhh, I mean my son, happened to eat all of the cheddar cheese the other day while making melted cheese and crackers for a late night snack, I would know that the Colby cheese we have in the fridge is similar to cheddar and it would probably work well as a substitute.  Just as I would know that Swiss cheese would give the dish a completely different flavor. 

I also mentioned that a good cook is able to create his or her own dishes from throwing together various ingredients that he or she knows would work well together.  I used an example of what not to do, based on my personal experimentation when I was a youngin' and decided to put cinnamon (I love cinnamon) in spaghetti sauce (I love spaghetti, so why not mix the two!?!?), along with a few other spices I had lying around.  Needless to say, I learned from my mistake and cinnamon no longer comes anywhere near my spaghetti sauce! 

What I failed to realize is, his little wheels were turning and turning, concocting a new dish in his mind as I spoke.  Since dinner was already made and in the oven, he decided he was going to make dessert...without my help! So, in a sense, he was actually listening to me...he never listens when I say put your socks away, clean up your toys when you are done, or wear your coat in the cold weather, so why would I think he would listen now?  Here's what he made...

Grabbing a few round pita-like bread pieces for the base, he spread Nutella as the first ingredient.  Clearly wanting more, he then reached for the chocolate sauce, marshmallows, apples, grapes, strawberries, a Snickers bar from Halloween, and...wait for it...cinnamon.  Uh-oh, I thought..not the cinnamon!  Now, normally I would be ok with strawberries and chocolate, or marshmallows and Nutella, and maybe even a little cinnamon on an apple slice...hey, I might even go for a Snickers bar and grapes, but generally, I would not want all of these ingredients placed on a 100% whole wheat, healthy piece of pita bread...with cinnamon.

Fortunately, I was able to convince him that the apples, strawberries and grapes should be put on after the dessert sandwiches came out of the oven (the marshmallows had to melt, of course).  He placed it in the hot oven for a few minutes then asked me to help him take it out - smart kid!  I tried to hide my unenthusiastic look as best I could when I saw the warmed product. 

So, here he had made a dessert from scratch, baked it, placed the fruit on top, and was anxiously waiting for us to eat it.  But, I must say, the final presentation of the dish was very beautiful, and it almost look like it was made by a seasoned cook...but I still knew what it was made of.

As I hesitated to allow my taste buds to sample his perceived delicacy, I wondered what I was going to do if it was atrocious.  I shuttered at the thought of the healthy pita holding the sweets together.  I was afraid, very afraid.  Obviously, I did not want to squish any future desires for him to cook, and I certainly did not want to hurt his feelings after his valiant effort, so I practiced my surprised and pleased face in my mind, waiting for the right moment to let it show.

I took a bite...hmmmmm....yeah, there's the cinnamon...but just a hint of it...nice...yum, there's the chocolate sauce and melted marshmallows....hmmm, like a s'more...not bad....Snickers bar piece...uh-huh...tasty...and the pita...crunchy enough from the oven that it all blended together rather well.  HA!  I did not have to fake it!  It was actually, okay!  I don't think it will make the dessert menu at Legal Seafood or Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, but it wasn't bad, I must say.  Yes, I was impressed...that is, until the next day when he wanted to do it again, but with white sandwich bread (he used all of the pita), Nutella, cinnamon, and cheese...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

He has a bright future in acting...

This past week my son took a giant step forward in the pursuit of a lucrative acting career.  His dream of working for George Lucas is turning into a reality right before our eyes.  And it is moments like these that I can say that I am glad to have been a part of the journey.  Yes, I can say that, but I am not...not this time, anyway.

My son's school held it's annual winter program last Thursday at a building that some said was a church.  This "church" however, was none like I have ever seen before.  Before I go on, let me say that I am in no way making fun of any religion, church, practice, belief, or anything like that, rather I am just giving you my interpretation of what my eyes saw, and I will let you be the judge from there.  In addition, I suppose the Greater Being (insert preferred name descriptor here)  is everywhere, so the building itself could be anything from nothing to the most ostentatious structure in the world, right?  Anyway, enough with the disclaimer...

So, we pull into an office park full of medical offices and other types of businesses.  Smack in the middle, we find the, umm, church.  It stands a few stories tall, and has a very mall/office building look to it.  The congregation has a choice of two doors to enter where the sermons take place, but we will get to that later. 

In the lobby to your left (or right, depending on which door you entered from) appears to be an information desk that rivals (and may even win) those in a mega-mall.  Since we were here to attend a school function and church was not in session, I cannot be 100% sure what the desk was for, but it sure looked like a place to get directions. 

Since the first auditorium door was stuffed with anxious parents waiting to point identifying fingers toward the stage and gleam with joy at their child's perfected performance, we made our way down to the less-populated doors.  On the way we noticed an ATM-like machine.  The kiosk stood about five feet tall, had a computer screen, and a card reader that seemed the perfect size for a credit card or ATM card.  Still unsure of its intended use, we moved forward to the doors we would later enter.

For our viewing pleasure during our wait, we were treated to scrolling photos of various kids, which appeared to be taken during the school year.  Having moved to the area just two months ago, we had absolutely no idea who these kids were and I felt like I was watching some stranger's summer vacation slide show...not my idea of excitement, that's for sure.  However, I can say with 99.9% accuracy that if my son was in one of those photos, I would have watched the entire slide show repeatedly just to catch a two second glimpse of him...but he wasn't, and therefore, the slide show was quite boring. 

Although the slide show was humdrum, the interesting part was what the slide show was on.  Picture, if you will, six 50" high definition televisions standing on their sides, pressed up against each other in a row, with some type of psychedelic light show traveling a few feet above and below the televisions.  After you see that in your mind, look to your right and see six more identically placed television next to the first set of doors.  I guess I never realized Jesus had gone so high-tech, but then again, why would he not?  Perhaps the televisions were there for the Sunday afternoon know, that way the football games could be displayed while church was in service...but I didn't see any Lazy-boys around...however, the bathrooms were conveniently placed in between the two sets of technical miracle projectors, so you never know.

Finally, about forty-five minutes after arrival, we were ushered into the grand auditorium.  Walking up the neon blue tube-light lit stairs, we found our seat.  Yes, each step (and there were a whole bunch of them!) was lined with a tube light, similar to those found in a movie theater or airplane, only the light was a very dreamy and heavenly electric blue that produced a magical, warm and fuzzy feeling in my noggin.  The movie theater style seats were comfy, but I cannot recall the last time I was in a church that had stadium style seating, so that threw me off a bit.  They sure were nice for the winter performance, though!

In the center of the room stood a sound board most audio-visual geeks (like me) would be envious of that took up four or five rows of seating.  The control panel operated the superior sound system for maximum clarity preaching, I suppose.  The Broadway stage type of lighting must have been controlled in one of the multiple windowed rooms, at the back of the mega-meetinghouse, that over-looked the immense area one would assume the "alter" would be placed.  The stage was big enough to make The Lyric jealous...well, maybe not that big, but it was still a decent size!  Then it dawned on me...I knew what that ATM looking thing in the lobby was for!  After looking at all of this technology and fancy apparatuses, the church had to pay for it somehow, right?  Therefore, I pondered, it must be a tithing machine...yes, that's it, simply slide your Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover, or ATM card through and voila!  Yes, even He takes plastic, now.

So, in this church we sit, waiting patiently for our son to make his big North Carolina acting debut.  The first set was a group of primary students.  The first few seconds of the performance was nearly perfect with all of the kids signing clearly and in harmony.  Then, the confusion started.  One or two of the little Pavarottis started signing slightly off cue...which threw the others off...then the short attention spans kicked in and a little wandering began.  But, kudos must be given to the teachers since these little tykes sat relatively still for three songs, and sang (mostly) from memory without the help from the adults.  

The next few skits had everything your typical elementary school play would or two kids not paying attention, forgetting lines, walking on stage at the wrong time, and running around trying to catch up.  Yes, it was a scene from a blockbuster movie indeed, well, not quite the rock concert in the movie "Love Actually", but...well, you get the idea.  I think it was at this point that I started to doze off a little...

So, two and a half hours had passed since we first stepped foot in the door and our son was finally about to make his presence known.  Yes, his big NC debut was about to unfold...When the young narrator mentioned "China" and "dragon" in the same sentence, I woke from my nap.  Yes, I kinda dig dragons and more importantly my son said he was in this skit, so it was time to be alert.  Fortunately, I perked up just in time to see four pairs of shoes attached to four pairs of youthful legs, covered in a long, flashy, and red dragon suit.  There he was!  The second pair of legs belonged to my son...Man, was I proud.  My finger pointed to the stage, I sat a little taller, and joy gleamed from my smile.  He walked effortlessly and flowed with the other three sets of dragon legs, just as they had rehearsed for weeks.  Then, two minutes later, poof!, he (and the rest of the dragon) did an exit stage left and that was that.  A half of an hour later, the show ended. 

As another parent reality check popped up (me waiting two and a half hours to see two minutes of my son...err, son's legs and being ok with that), my son spotted me in the crowd and he weaved his way through the sea of proud parents, up the neon blue stairs, to give me a big hug.  "Did you see me, Dad?" he asked with a sense of extreme pride in his voice.  "I did! And you did great!" I remarked.  His smile, hug, and sense of accomplishment made the night a night to remember.  Yep...two and a half hours to watch two minutes.  And yes, I really was proud of him!  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why I want to be my son's age

While sitting here at the computer, applying for an agglomeration of jobs, I realized I have not written in the blog (who coined the term "blog", anyway?  And why didn't they come up with something more appealing?) for quite some time.  Then, I realized, I actually have a story to tell...and I needed a break from looking at the computer screen before my eyes go wonkers.  Well, I am sort of taking a break, and instead of staring at the monitor, I am staring at the keyboard.  Yes, I only use three fingers per hand to type, and yes, I still need to look at what I am typing, unless I am feeling particularly brave and rebellious.  Hey, don't judge me!

Anyway, yesterday afternoon, my son and I came home from school and he promptly asked me if he could have a piece of candy.  I replied, "No.  Don't forget, today is a grounded day." which he, apparently, conveniently forgot.  This, of course, was met with frustration, huffing and puffing, a mediocre slamming of the door, mumbling incoherently about how we didn't tell him he was grounded, followed by the clicking of the door being locked, with him on the inside and me on the outside.  Fortunately for him, he thought twice and unlocked it about as fast as he turned the knob to block me from entering, so that little no-no was overlooked.     

Once I was inside and began taking off the layers of warmth, I noticed he left his hat and coat on the table and floor.  When I asked him (or rather, I strongly suggested he do so) to put them away just like I have for the past four years (and every other time he leaves his coat, hat, socks, shoes, gloves, toys, plate, glass, shirts, or anything else he thinks he might be able to get away with, lying around), he, of course, responded with frustration, huffing and puffing, and a mediocre stomping across the noisy floors while mumbling a little louder this time, saying, "Why do you and Mom always ruin my day?"

Confused, I asked him what he meant by that and how did I ruin his day, today?  After a quick re-think of his words, he tried to soften the blow to Dad by saying, "Mom is going to tell me to put her dish away after dinner tonight and I don't want to always be the one to do it and it ruins my day when that happens!"  Since 99% of the time it is me who has, somehow, managed to make his day miserable (most likely from telling him to complete the nearly impossible task of putting his socks and coat where they belong instead of leaving them in the middle of the floor), I was pleased to find out it was not my fault, this least not right away.

I tried to explain to this intelligent nine year-old that we work as a team and help each other out.  I then asked him what he would do if I did not fix dinner every which he replied, "I would fix dinner for you!"  Impressed with this answer, I probed a little further and said, "Oh yeah?  What would you fix?"  "That's easy, I'd fix Taco Bell bean burritos!" he quipped.

Bean burritos...yum...notice those three letters are not capitalized and they are not followed by an exclamation point.  No, I am not a big fan of bean burritos.  But, kudos to him for being quick! I thought about asking him how he would get to the nearest Taco Bell and how he would pay for the burritos, but I refrained from completely bursting his bubble so quickly.  Instead, I tried to let the air seep out slowly enough that he could see it unfold in midair. 

The point is, at his age, picking up his socks, doing his chores, and not being allowed to eat bean burritos every night is pretty much the equivalent of me wondering and stressing out about how the bills will be paid this month, figuring out how to acquire a job that will help pay those bills, and not getting to relax on the couch for an hour before bedtime.  Hmm, come to think of it, he doesn't get bean burritos every night and he is still "forced" to do his chores and pick up his socks, and despite not figuring out how to pay the bills, and not finding a job (yet), I normally do get to relax on the least for half of an hour, every night, so maybe I don't want to be his age!  After-all, he also has a Dad and Mom who make his life so miserable every day that they are the sole cause of him being fussy and whiny .  Nah, I like being the grown-up, for now.  When he is old enough to get a job, maybe then I will revert to his age (his age, now) and take him up on the offer to provide dinner for the family.  Until then, I will just continue ruining his entire day...

Friday, December 3, 2010


This isn't the funniest one, but I found it to be humorous enough to warrant a chuckle or two.  I didn't think I would have another FSMSS entry so soon, but this is what was said this morning on the way to school...

Him:  Dad, would you and Mom ever sell me?
Me:  What?  What are you talking about?
Him: You know, would you and Mom ever try to sell me for money?
Me:  No, we wouldn't, but I might.
Him: WHAT!?!?
Me: Actually, no I wouldn't try to sell you, because I would have to pay someone to take you!
Him: (said in a very adult-like, dry, sarcastic tone)  gee...thanks. 

(yes, he knew I was joking) 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Funny stuff my son says...Part I (of many)

First, this is going to be a short entry.  Second, in case you haven't figured it out by now, I tend to have a dry, witty (attempted, anyway), sarcastic, diverse sense of humor...hopefully it translates well.  If not, you will get over it.  Third, I am certain this will not be the only entry entitled "Funny stuff my son says" (FSMSS) so search for them in the future, hopefully they will be as funny to you as they are to me.  Fourth, as always, thanks for reading and leave a comment, say hey, tell your friends about the blog, and let me know what you think from time to time.

Today's FSMSS:

I can't remember what we were talking about on the way to school this morning (I'm throwing out the geezer card, here), but about midway through the conversation, it went like this...

Me:  How do you like them apples?
My son: I don't like "themapples"
Me: Why not?
My son: Because I've never had "themapples" and I don't know what they are!
Me: (Silence...with a smile and a chuckle)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

When in Charlotte...

(12/02/10 - Added a link to the corresponding Examiner article at the end of the post)

Although Maryland is technically a southern state (it's below the Mason-Dixon line, and incidentally, is my homestate), I never really considered myself a true southerner.  As far as that goes, I never considered myself a northerner (or Yankee, as they are referred to down here), either.  Nomad, traveler, world resident, home-is-where-the-heart-is type of person - yes.  So, moving to a true southern state (North Carolina), was just another place to call home, southern or not. 

One of my preferences is to try the local flavor, no matter where I go.  What's the point of going some place new to visit just to eat at some chain restaurant you can get back home?  If you are going to do that, why spend the money to go to that foreign city?  Save the cash and buy the dessert at the chain restaurant back home!  So, it should come as no surprise that one of the first things my son and I did when we moved here was visit the quintessential southern state attraction...

I don't know about you, but when I think of North Carolina, certain things come to mind; tasty barbecue (although I'm not big on the vinegar based type...but I will learn to love it as much as Van's in Oklahoma, I'm sure), mountains, the Outer Banks, birthplace of Krispy Kreme (What? You didn't know that?  Shame on you!), excellent colleges, nature and beautiful scenery, and, of course, NASCAR!  Ok, maybe NASCAR is more like the first thing you might think of, but for dramatic effect, I had to put it last...

So, our destination to that quintessential southern state attraction was, of course, the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  (Here's where I can tag back to the geezer post...) Generally, I do not like to spend too much time reading the details about items; if it catches my eye and intrigues me, then I might skim over the information about that item, but that is about it.  Apparently, my son is filling my shoes a bit quicker than I thought...and in the meantime, I think he is pushing me out of mine!

After dropping $32.90 at the ticket booth, we proceeded to the ticket taker...which makes me wonder, why bother having a ticket booth and a ticket taker...why not make them one and eliminate the need for two lines?  But I digress...The ticket taker pointed us in the right direction, and failed to take our tickets.  The tickets were not really tickets at all, rather they were these cool back-stage, all-access-pass looking cards.  So the ticket taker was more of a directional guide and we soon found out what these cool "tickets" were really for.

About 50 feet past the entrance, a beautiful young lady with a camera almost as big as she, was blocking our path to the race cars.  If we wanted to pass, we had to get our picture taken...never mind the fact that I was lugging around my Nikon SLR with multiple lenses...that didn't matter, the young lady said.  So, reluctantly, we smiled for the salesperson as we stood in front of a blue (or maybe it was green...sorry, geezer moment...) backdrop.  As she snapped off a few shots, my son's facial expression pretty much summed it up..."why are we getting our picture taken?  I want to see the cars!" is what his eyes were blurting out.

Me, attempting to beat the institution!
After handing us a ticket where we could buy our very own picture of this memorable life event, she let us pass.  Upstairs to the third floor we went...where another photo-op person was conveniently placed in our pathway to viewing horsepower of days gone by.  Grrr...This time, I got smart.  I figured out what the gentleman was taking a digital picture of, positioned myself in a way that I could replicate the scene, and snapped off a few of my own shots while my son held the green flag above the starting line of resting, over-sized go-karts below.  HA!  Take THAT NASCAR marketers!  Of course, the picture I took is far from the caliber of Walter Iooss, but I felt a slight sense of redemption, anyway. (And, boy, I hope posting about this doesn't mean I'm traceable and now have some fines to pay...)

Finally, we were off, free as birds, unrestricted (except by the ropes, closed doors, and glass encasing around the memorabilia), and ready to learn the rich history of NASCAR.  Since my son had been talking about becoming a NASCAR race driver since the day we loaded the covered wagon to move from Oklahoma to North Carolina, I figured he would want to know all about NASCAR's past.  The first exhibit we came to detailed some of that history, but it did not have a car in front of it.  As I was reading the sign, (something I rarely do, don't forget) I reached for my son to put my arm around him so that we could take this moment in father-son bonding time, and cherish it for years to come.  I reached to my left...nope, not there.  I reached to my right...hmmm, not there either.  Ahhh, there he is...ten steps ahead of me.  I called out to him and suggested he stop and read the signs.  "Dad, I want to see the cars!" he fussed.  So off to the cars we went.
Did they really use bungee cords to hold down the hood?

Let's step back for a moment.  When we first entered the building, I asked how long we could expect to be in the Hall.  The lady said, typically people spend about two hours from top to bottom.  About ten minutes into our visit, we were done with the first of three floors.  Fortunately, the second floor was a bit more interesting to him.
Trying pit-crew
A natural talker...errr...I mean announcer!

The second floor was more interactive, and, best of all, it had race cars!  As a result, we spent about a full twenty minutes there, before he got bored.  As I was trying to get him to slow down to read some of the descriptions, he was busy checking out the pit crew area, simulation games, and wanting to spend more money to sit inside a genuine replica of a model race car.  Of course, I wanted to do this too, since I had not yet accepted my potential geezer status, but being short of funds made it difficult to succumb to the awesomeness factor.  So, we headed off to the first floor...where all the cool cars are.

Looking back

The first floor had a smattering of the different vehicles throughout NASCAR's existence.  As much as I wanted him to learn the history of a sport that we were, no doubt, going to be immersed in from living in the NASCAR capital of the world, I was just as excited as he was to see the life-sized, posed racers.  Ten minutes later, we were headed to the exit doors...

To exit the building we were directed to pass by the photo booth where we could purchase the many photos of us taken by the trained staff.  Somehow, we managed to duck past the eagle eyes of the salespeople and just when we thought we were free, the gift-shop magically appeared.  Off in the distance, I could see the exit, but my son's eyes could only see the merchandise.  Being the smart kid that he is, he went for one of the smaller items, knowing that his chances of me saying yes were much greater for this item than if he asked for a $200 coat.  However, I could not bring myself to buy a $10 matchbox car and so we escaped the NASCAR marketers grip once again.

Those forty minutes made me remember the days my parents took me sightseeing.  I had no desire to see the Louvre, Prado, Sugarloaf Mountain (but the bikinis in Ipanema sure were nice), or most of any of the other incredible places I was fortunate to visit as a kid.  All I wanted to do, other than check out the girls at Ipanema, was sleep and eat...and I could do that at home!  But, I am forever grateful to my parents for dragging me to these awful places and torturing me by forcing me to visit the Eiffel tower, or spending time in London, because now that I can appreciate it, I cannot afford the trip, so at least those memories are free, and pretty cool, now.  Hopefully my son will, one day, have fond memories of me making him stop to read the signs, try to get our money's worth, and forcing him to take in new sights in new places.  Right now though, to him I'm sure this must somehow mean I'm a geezer.

Corresponding article at the Examiner --> CLICK ME! 
Yeah, he had fun, and it was $33 well spent to see him smile.

Not a big fan of #3, but what would a blog about NASCAR and North Carolina be without Dale?