Why you should never answer the phone at work…..

The phone rings…..

Me: “Pharmacy, can I help you?”

Patient: “Is this the pharmacy downstairs?”

Me: “Well ma’am, if you are upstairs then this is the pharmacy downstairs.”

Patient: “No, I’m at home so I must have the wrong number.” CLICK.

That really just happened.

A Conversation You Will Never Have On a Boys Baseball Team

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I love coaching girls. The grit. The determination. The careful attention paid to personal hygiene. It has been an experience that I was completely unprepared for. I should have had at least an inkling of what I was getting into.

I have a wife. A son. A daughter. Two dogs, a boy and a girl. A turtle that I’m pretty sure is a boy and a fish that is almost certainly a girl. On paper the ratio of females to males in my household is 1:1. When you take into account the pure indomitable will of the ladies though that ratio gets a bit skewed.

It’s more like 492:1. The fish put ‘em over the top.

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All of that to say this- I am experienced at being outnumbered, so I figured coaching girls softball would not be a problem. My wife coaches first base and our friend, a kindergarten teacher, coaches third (She’s a girl too. Arnold wasn’t available.) Eleven girls. Two ladies. And conversations you will never hear in the pregame huddle of a boy’s team.

The First Practice
Right Field: “Are we going to have any signals?”
Me: “Signals? Like to steal or bunt or stuff?”
Right Field: “Yes sir. We should have some signals.”
Me: “Signals will come later. Let’s worry about
fielding, and hitting, not overrunning 3rd base. OK?”
Right Field: “I still think we should have signals.”
Me: “The only signal this team will need this season is
a ‘I need to go to the bathroom signal’.

Two Weeks Later….30 seconds before the first game

Me: “Play hard. Have fun. Don’t sling the bat.
Questions?”

Pitcher: “What’s the bathroom code?”
Me: “The WHAT?”
Pitcher: “The bathroom code.”
Me: “You mean the signal?”
Pitcher: “Yes. The bathroom signal.”
Me: “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
Catcher: “You said there is a bathroom signal but you didn’t
give it to us. What if we have to go to the bathroom!”
Me: “Then cross your legs like this.” ( I cross my
legs at the ankles.)

The Kindergarten Teacher:
“Or do your fingers in a ‘T’ like this.” (Taps one
finger on top of the other to make a ‘T.’) “Do it
twice for tee-tee.” (Laughs like a maniac)

Catcher: “Use your fingers not your hands ‘cause then they’ll think you
want a time out."

My Wife, the ‘Responsible One’:
“Or just hold up two fingers if you need to do the other.”
(Exchanges high fives with the Kindergarten Teacher)

Me: “I need a better agent.”

Boys have no concern about signals or bathrooms. I’ve learned through experience that A) boys just tend to go to the bathroom wherever they happen to be when the need arises, and B) even if a team of boys did have a bathroom signal they would all miss it anyway. Signaling a nine year old boy standing on first base while you’re standing on third base has as much of a chance of working as you being spotted by an orbiting satellite while stranded on a deserted island. If you were buried in sand up to your neck. And wearing a khaki hat.

Which is why I love coaching nine year old girls softball. I get to have signals!

The FBU National Championship, Part 1: Armageddon

Let me preface by saying I’m not completely certain what Armageddon will look like. I’m sure there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. I’m fairly certain that the weather will suck, the food will be less than palatable, and a lot of my friends will be there. My FBU National Championship experience was all of that, as well as a few things that not even our Creator could have envisioned for the end of the world. Eighteen teams of teenage football players running around San Antonio Texas, sleeping four to a room, frequently crossing paths with their opponents, and all with a minimal amount of adult supervision lends itself to the more terrifying aspects of Revelations.

I had the time of my life.

Football University, or FBU, conducts camps all over the United States for football players ages 12-18. They also sponsor the showcase event for high school seniors, The Army All-American Bowl, played in San Antonio, Texas. Over the years FBU has added events to the weekend of the Army All-American Bowl, including United States All-Star teams playing other countries, 7th and 8th grade East-West All-Star games, and, beginning in 2011, the FBU National Championship “Road to the Dome.” Sixty four teams from all over the country in a March Madness style tournament.

That’s where I come in.

I have coached my son’s football teams since he was five (he’s thirteen now.) My hometown (Shreveport, LA) is small enough so that the youth football coaches in the area know each other pretty well (familiarity breeds contempt.) When it was decided to put together a team to represent Northwest Louisiana my incredible pedigree and stature in the profession naturally made me a candidate to fill the final remaining position on the coaching staff. That and the fact that all the really good coaches had already said no, and all the average coaches were avid hunters and didn’t want football to cut into their time in the woods, and all the suck coaches were too lazy to answer the phone. I am not lazy. This is how I found myself on a practice field just before Thanksgiving surrounded by the greatest collection of 13 and 14 year old football talent in the northern half of Louisiana.

As any youth coach in any sport will tell you it is practically impossible to field a team of real deal, no bull, run through a wall, kill or die trying kind of players. Pick up a roster of 30 kids, weed out the clover pickers, the momma’s boys, the ones with daddies shoving them out of the car for practice, and the ones that have the desire but fall over for no apparent reason due to a lack of inner ear balance and you are left with five, maybe six kids that will be playing football on Friday nights in the coming years. Out of those five or six you may have one, and usually none, that have the potential to play ball in college.

This team would not have that problem.

Ten minutes into our first practice and I’m thinking, Holy crap. There isn’t a hole on this team that needs filling. These guys even warmed up like it was game time. Our first “light contact” scrimmage at the end of practice looked like the Coliseum scene in Gladiator. I walked up to our head coach and our OC. They were pie eyed. So was I. Everyone was trying to sort out who the gamers were so nobody was backing down an inch.

Mike the HC: “Maybe we should slow it down a bit. Before somebody gets, like, injured or something.”
Me: “Injured? We keep this up we’re gonna need six pallbearers and a backhoe.”

I walk over to the defense side and give our all-world strong (SAM) linebacker the good news. J.B. is what linebackers look like in movies. Blonde. Fast. Tall. Built like Urlacher. Mean like Nitschke.

Me: “J.B., we gotta slow it down. Somebody’s gonna get dead. No more tackling to the ground.”
J.B.: “Coach, we haven’t been tackling to the ground. We hit ‘em and they just kinda fall over.”

Can’t accuse the kid of being dumb. The 14 year old made a 27 on his ACT. Go ahead, read that again.

Things settled in after that. The boys started to realize that what was on the helmet was less important than what was in the heart. The kids from the two bitter rival private schools exchanged props. The private school kids watched the magnet school kids and saw that being smart doesn’t mean you can’t ball. And everybody was growing to love the country cousins from the east that were all day nasty but all about team.

Life lessons more important than any football game.

If we, a bunch of Louisiana boys, nobodies from nowhere, look like this, what will the big dogs look like? Texas, California, Florida? How much bigger, faster, stronger is it possible for a kid to get?

According to the bracket we wouldn’t see those teams until at least the third round. If we made it that far. Southeast Louisiana and Arkansas stood in the way.

We didn’t know it yet, but the journey that started on that practice field in November wouldn’t end until January, at the FBU National Championship in San Antonio.

Next up: Part 2, The Dog Catches The Car

Come along for the ride. Sign up at the bottom of the page to receive email updates of each installment of “The FBU National Championship”

Red Dawn. Without Thor or the North Koreans.

  

wolverines

wolverines (Photo credit: charlesfettinger)

    I was sitting around the back porch enjoying the cool springtime air and trying to solve the world’s problems with a buddy.  Eventually, as it more often than not does, talk turned to the current presidential administration.  “How can they,”  (it’s always ‘they’) “elect that clown?  Twice!”  Six months after the election and he’s still bummed. 

And he has a lot of company. 

  Unfortunately, angry Facebook posts and whining to your significant other won’t reverse the decision of the electoral college and the millions of registered voters they allegedly represent.  Trust me, I’ve tried .  The American people have spoken, even though they spoke in a mix of metaphors, Bruce Springsteen song snippets, and Alec Baldwin quotes.    I believe it’s time for a tangible, outward, positively futile and stupid gesture on somebody’s part.  And that somebody is me.

                I’m invading Cuba.

                 Because I’m not much of a writer, and Top Ten lists are the literary equivalent of finger painting, I’ve decided to plead my case David Letterman style…….

 

 TOP TEN REASONS TO INVADE CUBA:

1         WEATHER            Cuba is warm and sunny.  I learned this via Google Maps so you know it’s legit.  Sure, there are other failed nations out there ready to be reshaped into a sanctuary for democracy, but who wants to live in a desert like Iraq or Afghanistan?  If we’re going to invade a country let’s at least be able to do a little surfing.

Cubans' beach, Playa Boca, Las Tunas province,...

Cubans’ beach, Playa Boca, Las Tunas province, Cuba (Photo credit: miss mass)

2      CIGARS                 Cuban cigars are the envy of the world, but you wouldn’t know that because the good old U.S of A. won’t allow them to be imported on account of they are commies and we’re still a little miffed at the whole Cuban Missile Crisis thing.  But Cuban cigars are a ready made export and with a little marketing and a pro-democratic shadow government in place we  Americano revolutionaries will be more than able to suck the last little bit of disposable income from our cousins to the North.  Credit cards, silver, and gold happily accepted.  Stuff those greenbacks where the sun don’t shine.

3      FAILED STATE     The annual income of the average Cuban is something in the neighborhood of twelve cents.  The standard of living sucks, the army uses flintlock rifles , and nobody but Fidel Castro can afford to smoke their own cigars.  There is no place to go but up for our Cuban brethren and with very little effort we could get that annual income up to, say, twenty cents.  No problemo.

 4      FIDEL CASTRO    He smokes all of the cigars.  He makes everybody play baseball.  And he looks like Frank Burns on Tom Hanks’ Castaway island.  Let him take Bud Seleig’s spot as MLB commissioner.

English: The Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Españo...

English: The Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Español: El líder cubano Fidel Castro. Italiano: Il leader cubano Fidel Castro Français : Le dirigeant cubain Fidel Castro. 日本語: キューバの最高指導者であるフィデル・カストロ Português: O líder cubano Fidel Castro. ‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Cubas statsoverhode Fidel Castro. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5      SUGAR                 It’s sweet.  It’s a cash crop.  And millions of Americans can’t live without it.  It’s nature’s crack and the Cubans grow a ton of it.  Sugar is an ATM without a pin number.

6      CIGARETTE BOATS           Sonny Crockett made the ninety mile trip from Miami to Havana in like, thirty minutes.  Wouldn’t you like to try that?  With dual citizenship all things are possible!

 7      BEACHES              Not the Bette Midler kind.  Clean, clear and Spring Break free.  Open a taco stand or just bring a towel and soak it up! 

8      POLLUTION        There is none.  No factories ‘cause nobody wants to give their hard earned dough back to The Man.  No cars ‘cause nobody can afford ‘em.  It’s a Greenpeace paradise!

 9      THE LOCALS        Everybody hates Castro but nobody has the guns to take him down.  However, there are more than enough weapons here in the States to do the job- at least for the time being.  Heck, there are more guns in North Louisiana than there are in all of Cuba!  And once my invasion plan is put into place we’ll take Cuba without firing a shot anyway.

10   THE USSR             There isn’t one anymore.  That pesky nuclear option is nothing but a distant memory.

 

                Convinced?  Not yet?  What if I told you I have a plan?  I call it……..

OPERATION ORTHOPOD!

Revolutions are bloody, lengthy and tend to fill one side or the other with all kinds of hate and resentment, usually resulting in the loser’s genocide by the victors  (See Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Soviet Union, et al.)  Operation Orthopod will democratize Cuba without the bloodshed or the burden of wearing camouflage using the two greatest symbols of American awesomeness: orthodontics and portable electronic devices.

                Phase one:         “A Teams” of specially trained orthodontists will parachute behind enemy lines and wreak havoc, installing braces and retainers on a suitably grateful populace.  Hearts and minds with straight teeth. 

TV Guide #1615

TV Guide #1615 (Photo credit: trainman74)

                 Phase two:         At secure locations throughout North America agents will collect older generation  IPhones, IPods, IPads, Kindles, and other super cool gadgets that we’ve outgrown and covertly smuggle them into Cuba.  The natives will be so enamored and awed with our technological prowess that they will willingly allow our invading forces to storm the beaches in the fervent hope that we will spread the gospel of Steve Jobs to the lost and WiFi deprived peoples of Latin America’s last communist stronghold.  Should take about thirty minutes.

 

                Once we have established a stronghold, kicked out the commies, caught some rays, smoked a few cigars and put up cell phone towers, then the real work will begin.  Currency will be gold, silver and ITunes downloads.  The “federal government” will consist of a President (for ribbon cutting ceremonies), a Vice President (in case the President oversleeps), and a Secretary of Defense (Chuck Norris- no discussion needed.)  All requests for government aid will be handled by Mr. Norris, drastically cutting the amount of aid given as well as aid requested (“Mr. Norris can I have a few bucks ‘cause I’ve been feeling kind of depressed and can’t really work…….?  Roundhouse kick to the head.  “Request denied.”)  Should a country try to invade us, each citizen will simply reach under the bed and pull out their government issued automatic weapon, dig a foxhole on the beach  and fire away- Lexington and Concord style.  Exports will be cigars, sugar, rum and awesomeness.   

  

  Now, you’re probably thinking “Didn’t America promise not to invade Cuba when the Soviets took out the missiles back in ’61?”   Why yes, Sparky, they did.  Don’t let it trouble you.  We aren’t acting as Americans.  We are acting as democratic revolutionaries of a decidedly non nationalistic nature.  And besides, your government quit thinking of you as Americans a loooong time ago.

 

Action Jeans

Action Jeans (Photo credit: kire)

Viva la revolucion, y’all!!

Ready to join the revolution?  Comment below.  Leave your “Special Forces” nickname, weapons preference, and preferred MOS (that’s your speciality- demolitions, dentistry, ipad screen replacement, whatever.) Then sign up to receive blog updates.  When it’s time to cross the Gulf and storm the beaches of Havanna, I’ll give you a call.