Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Permanent Mexican Vacation Anyone?

"O h, Mexico. It sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low. Moons so bright like to light up the night. Make everything all right" _ James Taylor, "Mexico"

Today has been one of those days where I'm so tempted to pack up what I can fit into my little car and start driving south.

All I would need for sure would be some cash, my passport, some shorts, t-shirts and flip flops. Probably my laptop too.

I'd probably head west to Arizona, then south to Puerto Vallarta. I'd sleep in my car along the way, and live off chili dogs from the Kwik-E-Mart.

When I arrive in Puerto Vallarta, I'd probably head to the downtown bars first. Because that's what one should do in Puerto Vallarta.

Then I'd set up shop that week selling photographs and short stories on the beach. I'd sell them cheap, too, because all I would need to pay for is a bed, a roof, some food, and some cervezas.

Life for me would be cut down to the bare essentials. Work, sure, but only to pay for the good things in life, and most of them are free. The sun. Dancing to the vibrant music. Enjoying the sound of the ocean. The smell of authentic Mexican food cooking in the distance.

I'd spend my days on the beach, peddling my wares, and my nights enjoying the cool ocean breeze off the bay of banderas, hopefully on a balcony on the mountainside, sipping a cold Bohemia.

And everything would be all right.

Nile and Grady, some day I hope you know how lucky you are that your dad loves you more than the above scenario.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

RIP Jeff Doyle, You Are Missed

Tonight I got an email from an old friend from Iowa City.

She told me that she had received word that one of our common friends, Jeff Doyle, had died this week of colon cancer.

It was one of those "getting hit by a ton of bricks" moments.

Jeff and I got to know each other through the Iowa City-Coralville Jaycees, and we quickly found ways to get into trouble together.

There was the night we planned to hit the bars in Iowa City. I had to call my then wife and explain to her that I was still at the bar at 3 a.m. "The bars close at 2!" she replied in a sharp tone. "Not in Illinois, they don't," was my reply.

Then there was the time he hosted a Super Bowl party and bought a pony keg. He didn't bother to tell me that there were only 3 of us attending. That was the same Super Bowl party he had champagne chilling on ice so we could pop it and toast Tim Dwight when he scored a touchdown. Sure enough, that bottle got popped. Only. Time. I. Missed. Work. The. Day. After. The. Superbowl.

I also remember many nights turned into morning, sitting on my patio, enjoying cheap cigars and cheaper beer, and solving all the world's problems.

And now that Jeff is gone, I think it is safe to tell one of the most awesome secrets I've kept for over 15 years.

Jeff, a devout Hawkeye fan, made a habit out of stealing football helmets from Kinnick Stadium. He had seats behind the visitor's bench, and he wanted to collect as many helmets from the opposing teams as possible. He was a master at it. Even after having newspaper articles written up about the mysterious helmet thefts, he was never caught. The best newspaper article details a time when the starting QB for the opposing team went to grab his helmet from the bench only to find it gone. Yep, Jeff had it.

He had them all tucked away in a special display case that only his close friends got to see.

Jeff could be a pissy mood bastard, and he could be the life of the party. You never knew which Jeff you might get, but one thing you always knew with Jeff. You had someone who would give you the shirt off his back, and then make sure it fit right.

I'll miss you, buddy. I'll sing "In Heaven There is no Beer" in your honor, and pour out a 40 ouncer for you.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thank you, dad.

My dad is the most moral man I know.

He won't jaywalk. He might say he will, but he won't.

If he had a late DVD return at the movie store, you can bet your ass he wouldn't drop the DVD in the night return slot. Nope. Because he wouldn't have a late DVD.

I admire my dad on so many levels.

I admire him for his work ethic. When we were young, my brothers and I didn't always see my dad much. Because he was working harder to bring home money to feed our ever-growing appetites.

I admire my dad for the fact that he doesn't waffle. He knows what he believes in, and stands by it.

I admire my dad because he has always understood the notion of the greater good. After receiving his J.D. from the University of Iowa, he promptly enrolled in the U.S. Army. His pay in the military was not anything compared to what he might make practicing law. But it was consistent. The turtle beats the hare. An important value he instilled in me.

I admire my dad because he not only made us laugh, he taught us how to make others laugh. And laughter is medicine...and has helped keep my brothers and I close over the years. Despite many a fight, many an angry moment, and many a mile between us as we grew older.

I admire my dad for his faithfulness to my mom. Just shy of 51 years, things aren't perfect for them, but they're perfect for each other. I only wish that I could find the person in my life that would be with me 51 years later (stop doing the math, I know I'll be dead by then).

Most of all, I admire my dad because he has lived his life the right way, from beginning to present day. Is he perfect? No. I learned some of my best cuss words when he'd be doing wallpaper projects for my mom.

But he's my dad. And he did a helluva job considering all the things he had to put up with. And without speaking for my brothers, I can still say that all three of us are who we are today because of the role our dad played in our lives.

Thank you dad. I can only hope that someday I'll have two boys who feel the same way about me as I do about you.