Wednesday, July 30, 2014

...And THIS kids, is why we can't have nice things!

Remember show and tell? Back when I was in elementary school we would have show and tell every Monday morning, whereby we might be called on to share with the class some interesting thing we had done over the weekend. We would always have a special vacation edition show and tell after spring break. “Johnnie, tell the class what you did over break!”

Well, I will spare all of you the “show” part since it would involve highly personal photographs of various parts of my body with giant gashes and bruises. Instead, I will attempt to describe yesterday’s events for you with as little anger and resentment as possible, trying my best to keep the whining to a minimum.

I started my day with disciplined intentions. Since I had spent two full days eating enough food for three people, I purposed to start my day with a brisk run. I began at a fine pace, feeling rather cocky since my four days a week workout regime over the past five years has left me extremely fit. I ran down Beaucain road as it curled around the lake and made the long uphill climb to the intersection with route 52 with barely a deep breath. I turned left and began the miles long trek up the east side of majestic Megunticook Lake.

1.     Then I pulled a hammy.

I wasn’t a severe pull, more like an annoying twinge. I slowed down, then walked for a while, starting up again a quarter mile later. Yep, I had pulled my left hamstring. No big deal though. Sure, it would hurt a little for a few days and be mildly irritating, but I was on vacation and a simple pulled muscle wasn’t going to get me down.

After breakfast of this gloriously beautiful day, we all decided that we would hike the Maiden’s Cliff trail up to the top of the huge 800 foot wall of rock across the lake from our house. Our handy trail guide described the trip as a 30 minute frolic over a gently sloping pebble lined footpath. After the torrential rains of Monday, it might be a little wet, but the views sounded fantastic.

Thirty minutes into this adventure we not only weren’t at the summit, we had yet to find any pebbles, or for that matter any footpath. What we had found was a jagged canyon with ginormous boulders scattered across a “trail” that had it not been for blue marks painted on trees and rocks every fifty feet, we would still be wandering around up there. Paula and Ron were gassed, and since both of them have metal rods in their recently surgically repaired ankles, decided wisely to turn back. Pam and I, rather smugly I must confess, decided to venture on to the top. We were rewarded with a fabulous panoramic view of mountains, lake and ocean. We picked and ate blackberries raspberries and blueberries that grew wild along the flat rocks. However, it must be said that despite the beautiful view, we were not at our advertised destination. No 800 foot cliffs, just a bunch of very confusing signs that pointed off in conflicting directions with arrows and mileage. “Mount Megunticook Trail…2.5 miles. Maidens Cliff trail 0.8 miles. Wait, the sign we passed 0.5 miles ago said it was only 0.3 miles! Pam and I decided to take a different trail back down the mountain, since neither of us could imagine going down the same way we came up. Five minutes into our descent I…

2.     …placed my right foot on some dead leaves on a giant boulder which sent my feet flying upward and slammed me down hard on my lower back and ass with a resounding thud.

By the time Pam had shimmied down the rock and gotten to me, I had recovered a little bit of composure, but I had an ugly gash/bruise on my lower back, a skinned up elbow and a marble-sized knot on my butt!

Back at the cabin everything was cleaned up, Neosporin was applied, ice applied in all of the appropriate places, and soon this too, was shrugged off.

They say that bad stuff happens in threes. Well, after a delicious lunch, and despite a very sore ass, launched out in the kayak over the still water having put the days’ mishaps behind me. After a relaxing thirty minutes of peaceful solitude, I pulled the kayak up onto our grassy yard and decided to join Pam out on our float. I began walking down the dock plank and just as I reached the place where the dock is attached to the float I…

3.     Heard a horrible snapping noise. Then, in super slow motion I watched the dock tear itself away from the float and crash into the water. I began to fall and the entire weight of the fall was absorbed by my right knee and shin as a jagged and rotting board gave way and my knee lodged into the edge of the float. Somehow, I avoided being thrown into the water, but the knee and shin were pretty badly bruised and skinned up.
So, now I have a limp to go along with an only partially functioning backside. Pictures to follow.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Vacation For The Mind

For all of you who have been quietly annoyed at me for posting Maine pictures, you will be happy to know that yesterday Camden experienced rainfall that can only be described as Noah-esk.  By 8 o’clock last night the radio was screeching out one of those horrible emergency broadcast warnings, the ones that sound like a cross between a fax machine signal and a dial-up internet connection. There were flash flood warnings for half of the state. There were reports of cats drowning in the raging torrents of water! We were reduced to eating take out clam chowder and fresh, warm biscuits from Cappy’s. I’m telling you…it was horrible!

But here I am at 5:45 in the morning looking out over the still as glass water of the lake watching the powder blue skies creeping in from the ocean, replacing the last of the low clouds from the night. I’m in long sleeves and my coffee is helping to keep me warm. I’m told that today is to be mostly sunny and 72.

Random observations about this place:

1.     The reason I’m up so early is because the sun rises earlier here, I suppose because we are so much further north. I generally wake with the first streams of light, so at home that usually means 6:30 or so. Here it’s 5:30.

2.     Maine should be called The Flower State instead of Vacationland. Everywhere you look there are lush flower beds, flower boxes in windows, flower pots outside of businesses. In the town of Camden, they even have flowers boxes on the top of the public trash cans. And even though it’s almost August, they all look May fresh, like the arrangements you buy at Strange’s for Mother’s Day to put on your deck at home. Only, in Virgina, by August first those flowers are an eyesore, looking as if they have just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan where they contracted the AIDS virus. I suppose flowers thrive here because they never have to endure stifling heat and humidity. Whatever the reason, the results are beautiful.

3.     Almost none of the public buildings here have air conditioning. The ones that do make a big deal of it, posting little signs in their shop windows, “We’re air-conditioned!!” It makes me wonder why these environmental non-profits like the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund have air conditioning in their office buildings. Seems to me that all these save the planet tree hugger outfits should be setting a better example for the rest of us by housing their headquarters in giant mud huts along the banks of the Potomac river instead of glistening towers on K street.

4.     You should see my wife in a kayak. The woman is amazing, she becomes a completely different person, transported to another place. The sound of the water lapping against the sleek hull, the speed of the thing cutting through still water, the majestic views all around do something to her. She’s been out twice so far and would have gone out in the rain yesterday if it hadn’t been for the wind.
There is a television at this cabin, but it hasn’t been turned on yet. I haven’t read a newspaper. For all I know peace could have broken out in the Middle East and I wouldn’t find out about it until they were fighting again. But I am reading a great biography of Ted Williams, so I haven’t abandoned all intellectual stimulation, just the kind that ages me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Getting My Maine On

This is probably my 25th trip to Maine, somewhere around there, and each time it’s the same. It takes a while. There’s a 24 hour period where your body and mind are still in Virginia. But the way you think and feel in Virginia won’t do.

After a day up here you began to feel the change. The muscles in your back begin to loosen, your blood pressure begins to fall. Before long you find yourself sitting in a chair on a dock listening to the water lap against the shoreline and it occurs to you that you aren’t thinking about anything. You’re simply looking and listening. That’s when you know that you’re beginning to get your Maine on.

Then you suddenly realize that you are starving. Even though you’ve done nothing but sit in a dock chair and stare out at the mountains across the lake for an hour, you feel like you could eat a horse. Then, when you are served a simple ham sandwich with chips and a beer, it taste like a five star gourmet meal. Such is the power of the Maine air…or something.

Yesterday the first part of the day was sunny and delicious. We spent much of the morning kayaking all over this meandering lake that stretches itself for miles in all directions, full of islands and inlets, nooks and crannies, dotted by one postcard camp after another. To paddle by these sanctuaries is to do battle with envy, to commit the sin of covetousness more times in an hour than you have previously in the entire 56 years of your existence.

By afternoon, it started getting cloudy, then the rain came. Today will be a washout. The rest of the week looks glorious, with high temperatures in the low 70’s with bright sunshine. We will spend the day in Camden shopping and eating. It’s only Monday morning and I already never want to leave.

When we first arrived, Pam and I sat on the back porch in silence for a moment, taking in the beauty. Then she said to no one in particular, “I miss my kids.” It was as if she was saying it to the lake, a simple statement of fact, an acknowledgment of the realty of our new life. Of course, she’s right. We do miss our kids. For most of our lives together, Maine has been associated with family vacations. Maine was fluffer-nutters on the beach at Dummers. So to be here without them feels incomplete. The fact that both of them have better things to do than to be here with us seems like a small betrayal.
But then I remind myself that the kids weren’t invited. Besides, with each passing hour, we are both missing them less and enjoying this place more.  We are getting our Maine on, which includes adjusting to the primitive conditions of a cabin built 75 years ago. The bathroom sinks have one cold faucet and one hot faucet and gasp, no stopper! How are we to wash our faces under such barbaric conditions? Absent a “proper stopper” we are reduced to fetching a bowl from the kitchen and mixing cold water with hot ourselves! Oh, the humanity!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Next Ten Days

For the next ten days, I will be on vacation. This means that I will not be analyzing summary statements of client holdings. I will not be scanning the Wall Street Journal at 6:30 in the morning trying to decipher the short and long term implications of the latest Federal Reserve utterances. I will not be desperately trying to talk clients out of raiding their IRAs to buy jet skis, and I will not be pleading with clients to stop reading the latest installment of somebody’s newsletter called, “Jesus Is Coming Back Soon So Stop Saving For Your Retirement Since There’s No Money In Heaven.”

Here’s what I will be doing:

1.     Enjoying a place where the average high temperature is twenty degrees cooler than it is in Short Pump.

2.     Jumping into lake water so clean and cold that you are unable to speak for five full minutes afterwards.

3.     Eating lobster that was pulled out of the North Atlantic like ten minutes ago and cost about as much as I pay for appetizers at Maggianos.

4.     Living in a cabin so authentically cool, it has a birch tree coming up through the middle of the dining room table.

5.     Kayaking on lake water so smooth and clear, you can see rocks twenty feet below the water line.

6.     Watching the sun rise over a mountain ridge only a quarter of a mile from the back door of our cabin, then watching the sun set over the beautiful Maine coast line which is only three miles away.

7.     Eating the best clam chowder you’ve ever tasted from tin cups at Cappy’s.

8.     Dining at a place called Peter Ott’s and enjoying the most deliciously warm gingerbread with hot caramel sauce you’ve ever put in your mouth.

9.     Strolling through the delightful streets of Camden poking around in all of the quaint shops and boutiques for as long as Pam wants me to because…

The next ten days will be devoted to whatever my wife wants. I have watched her pour her heart and soul into the care and feeding of our daughter’s wedding for over 18 months. I have marveled at her stamina. I have worried about her mental and physical health. I have never seen anyone work so hard for so long with such painstaking attention to detail. This vacation is about me trying to begin paying her back.

So, for ten days, whatever Pam wants, Pam gets.

Within reason, of course.

I mean, I just paid for a wedding.

Plus, it has to be legal.

So, I guess technically, not everything she wants.

Everything that Pam wants…that I can afford is probably more accurate.
I should stop typing now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nightmare in Nashville

Earlier this week, my wife, along with my sister, my nephew and my son left my house in three fully loaded vehicles headed for Nashville, Tennessee. Patrick, having completed his graduate studies had rented a house with two other guys and was excited to start his new life in his favorite city. My wife refused to let him make this trip alone. If he’s going to live 9 hours away, at least his new home should get off on a good start by being settled and organized. So, off they went!

What follows are actual events that took place between roughly 6 PM Monday the 21st of July and 12:15 AM Tuesday the 22nd. Details have been provided to me via an e-mail written by my wife along with several hysterical texts and one more measured and dispassionate cell phone conversation. I present this information to you without embellishment, and I will refrain from employing dramatic license, since as you will soon see…none is required.

From: Pam Dunnevant

To: Doug Dunnevant

 This day has spiraled into a blog-worthy nightmare. What follows are just the worst of the multiple bad things that have happened:

1.     Patrick’s house is filthy and reeks of pet urine. The previous tenants trashed the place and were kicked out---for good reason!!

2.     Patrick’s house has no hot water. That’s right…no hot water. Oh, and when you turn on the bathtub faucet, the sink faucet stops working.

3.     Went to the mattress store to buy him a bed and the place was so sketchy, it freaked me out. No mattress purchased. Add that to the 100 other things I will need to do tomorrow before I will be able to leave my sweet son alone in an essentially empty house that he will probably become allergic to.

At this point, I couldn’t imagine her day getting any worse. I was mistaken. They hadn’t checked into their hotel room yet.

4.     Our hotel room, which we checked into around midnight…reeks of skunk, billows of skunk smell roaring out of the AC vents, which we can’t control. The manager had to move us to another end of the hotel since apparently, a skunk had made its way into the basement near the elevator shaft and caused a “problem” in that end of the building. The new room, the only one available only has one bed, not two.

 I would cry, but I’m not able to since I’m in shock. Hope you’re having fun too.

I read this e-mail first thing Tuesday morning. Needless to say, I was very concerned about the situation as well as my wife’s sanity. However, with the dawn of a new day and after a decent night’s sleep, things began to improve.

Pam: Patrick doesn’t seem as worried about the house as I am. We’re working on a fix for the water and I am putting on my happy face.


Me: How are things going now?

Pam: Great! Just bought a mattress and a desk. The cat pee smell is almost non-existent today. Paula and I must be superior cleaners! Plumber is on the way to fix the water situation.

Me: Unless you think they might send me into cardiac arrest, could you send me some pictures of the place?

 She sends me a picture of her and Patrick assembling his TV cabinet. Hmmm…

Pam: The Plumber thinks he has found the problem with the water and he can fix it. Unfortunately the power just went out in the neighborhood.

Me: What…is there a thunderstorm??

Pam: Not a cloud in the sky. The saga continues…

Fortunately, the power came back on, and the place is organized and sanitized enough that Pam felt she could safely leave this morning heading back home. She will cry when she leaves her boy. She will cry again when she gets home after so long and trying an adventure. But then I will whisk us both away for 7 days in Maine, hands down the most superbly timed vacation of our entire married life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Diversity. A fine word. We all want lots of diversity in our lives. When we go to the grocery store to buy, say…beer, we like the stores that stock 50 different brands of brew. When we purchase a cable television package we want a diversity of channels, not just NBC, CBS, and ABC. Since we are not North Korean, we desire diversity in our clothing, lots of different styles and colors in our closets. But somewhere down the line in the field of higher education, the word “diversity” has become associated with another fine word…moron.

Consider, if you will, the latest advance in the diversity project at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where they are striving mightily to “place the mission of diversity at the center of institutional life so that it becomes a core organizing principle.” One would have thought that the “center of institutional life” at a “university” would have been reserved for, you know…education, but what do I know? I’m not an educational expert like the luminaries at UW.

The interesting part of this new project at Wisconsin comes in the fine print of the plan as follows:

…it calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented ethnic-racial groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs and high demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.”

Hmmm…What measures does a professor have to use, besides a student’s mastery of the material, in order to properly distribute the correct grades, you might be wondering? Well, there’s lots of stuff…

individual differences in personality, learning styles and life experiences, group and social differences that may manifest itself through personality, learning styles, along with differences of race, gender, sex, and gender identification or expression, sexual orientation, age, country of origin, physical or intellectual ability, emotional health, social-economic status, and affiliations that are based upon cultural, religious, political, or other identities”

Goodness. Using this menu of excuses, I could have graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Richmond, instead of “Thank the Laude.” I mean, I clearly struggled in the hard sciences because of my “learning style” which was heavy on baffling them with bull**** on the essay questions and using my patented guessing system on the multiple choice. My “life experiences” didn’t help out either, since I was working in a pallet manufacturing factory 30 hours a week while I was in school. As for “emotional health”, are you kidding me? I was a basket case every time I opened a blue book in Dr. Rilling’s British history class. And, don’t even get me started on my “intellectual ability” or “personality.” You try sitting for an hour and a half listening to Dr. Bogel pontificate on the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict with ADHD!

Clearly, under this new regime of performance analysis being employed at the University of Wisconsin, I could have turned out totally different. Perhaps I could have graduated with an advanced degree in Bio-Physics, and won a Nobel Prize by now.

Seriously though, when one thinks through the long term consequences of this type of Balkanized learning curve, the results will not be good. Suppose you are in a heart surgeon’s office and notice that he earned his undergraduate degree from UW-Madison? How confident will you be in allowing someone to cut your chest open who was given diversity A’s in biology because of his low self-esteem issues? You might not give a hoot about his sexual orientation, but when you consider that it might have helped him pass Surgery101, you might care…a lot!

So, while the good people in Madison work hard fine tuning their “representational equity,” I’ll look for a Johns Hopkins diploma next time I need an operation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vacant Lots

This morning the clouds hung low in the sky, gray and listless, humidity thick as molasses. Clear skies and sunshine would have helped. I had been dreading this day for months now, but there I was helping Patrick pack all of his worldly possessions in three cars for his latest trip back to Nashville, his new city. Pam and Paula were heading down with him along with Ryan, who would be driving the cavernous Buick.

Meanwhile, Kaitlin and Jon were busy packing up all of their wedding gifts, all of Kaitlin’s clothes and the remainder of her stuff from the attic in preparation for the trip to Columbia. They will begin their married life together in South Carolina, while Patrick will be trying to make his mark in Tennessee, both of them many miles from home.

Pam and I have been through this before, but in the past it was always temporary. This is the real thing. They are both grown and on their own, and my house feels empty, their old rooms like vacant lots, full of furniture but oddly still and lifeless. Pam won’t be back until Wednesday, so I’ll have a couple of days in this place by myself to get acclimated to the new reality.

I spent much of my day at the office working through my Dad’s financial affairs, paying the stray bills that keep trickling in through the mail. I spent nearly an hour talking with someone at Bank of America, trying to officially cancel a credit card that had a zero balance. It would require a copy of his death certificate to get it done, a certificate that I had to pay $12 for. Even after death Dad can’t escape the tyranny of our paper-pusher society. Dying isn’t cheap.

So now, I will pretend to watch a baseball game on TV while I think about how it could possibly be true that I have two grown people for children.

But first, I think I’ll close the doors to their rooms. There’s no point in standing in the doorways looking in anyway. Who wants to look at vacant lots? Besides, I hear that a redecorating project is in the works.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Dark Day at PETA

I normally don’t spend a lot of time in this space talking about the latest shenanigans in the Middle East, mostly because it is so unbearably boring and predictable. The Israelis vs The Palestinians are to the geopolitical world what the “terrible twos” are to child rearing, both inevitable and infuriating. The only difference is that with kids, they eventually grow up. Not so in the Middle East. So the rest of the world has to put up with their interminable adolescence.

However, something happened while we slept that is worthy of note, as it may help turn the tide of public opinion.

Generally speaking, the world press treats an Israeli/Palestinian conflict like this:

-         Peaceful yet fed up Palestinian people “rise up” against their Jewish oppressors by lobbing a few harmless rockets into some random hillside and the war mongering Jewish state completely overreacts by launching a full scale military invasion of the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of thousands of children. Every reporter on the ground in Gaza shows up at hospitals and begins interviewing the injured toddlers. Great pains are taken by these intrepid film crews not to show the rocket launchers in the corner of these hospitals rooms, which might make for inconsistent optics and confusion among the viewers. At the end of each piece, footage is shown of riots taking place in the streets of New York, Paris and London in support of the suffering children and against the Fascist Israeli state.

All of the beautiful people of the world are always in agreement. The Jews are killers and the Palestinians are innocent victims. In another world and in another time, this used to be called “anti-Semitism.” Now, it’s called liberal consensus.

But, I have a feeling that the tide may be turning. Cracks may begin to be seen in the united front of progressive, enlightened thought. For, overnight came word that Hamas, the governing power in Gaza, has resorted to using “suicide donkeys.” That’s right, perfectly innocent animals have been enlisted as weapons of mass wait, should it be "ass" destruction? The traditional “beast of burden” has now been employed to carry the ultimate burden, one hundred pounds of bombs. This follows reports of dogs similarly engaged, but never documented, in the second intifada. As of 6:25AM, no official statement has been forthcoming from PETA, but a press conference has been scheduled for later in the day, and one source inside the animal rights organization has described the denunciation of Hamas that is to come as “blistering.”

“You know, it’s one thing to strike out blindly at your Zionist oppressors and all, I mean, I get it,” said the highly placed source. “But you start strapping bombs around donkeys, well…that’s just beyond the pale.”

If PETA can be turned, one has to wonder what traditionally leftist organization may follow? Might powerful Teachers Unions in America object to Hamas using the roofs of schools for their anti-aircraft batteries? Might Humanists organizations tire of Hamas soldiers constantly yelling “God is great” every five minutes? Right now the situation is quite fluid, but from where I sit, the Palestinian cause may finally have gone a bridge too far.

Time will tell.


Friday, July 18, 2014

When All Else Fails, Head To The Hamptons

Yesterday afternoon was one of those times when the outlandish possibility that the world might be about to end creeps into your mind. There I was having a delicious Italian Stallion sub at Big Al’s with some friends over lunch, when news breaks that a Malaysian 777 with 295 souls aboard had been shot down over Ukraine by a surface to air missile. Among the dead, 23 Americans. To the families of the dead I suppose it doesn’t matter who fired the missile, but that’s all the talking heads seemed to care about. Was it the Russians, the Ukrainians, or the separatist rebels?  If it turns out to be the Russians, what will President Obama do?

As if this wasn’t enough, word then came that the Israelis had begun a ground invasion of the Gaza strip. No dead Americans, but lots of explosions and tracer fire flying across the television screen and somber, earnest reporters breathlessly wondering what this escalation will do to the “peace process.” We were told that Secretary of State John Kerry was headed to the region for emergency talks. Gas, meet fire. Then, to add insult to injury, Bubba Watson made a triple bogey at the British Open. My chances of finishing my lunch without severe heartburn vanish. I glance over at a panel of sports reporters on ESPN2 having a discussion on how all of the day’s events will effect Lebron’s legacy. It was all just too much.

So, let’s recap. The most snake bitten airline in history loses another plane due to some trigger happy Russian/Ukrainian/ Separatist nutjob. Obama heads to the Hamptons for a fundraiser. The Jews and Palestinians are at each other’s throats for the 16,000th time over the last 4000 years of recorded history, and we send Lurch over there (for reasons that escape me) to mediate, or get caught in the crossfire, whichever comes first. Bubba Watson proves once again that he can’t play golf in any tournament with the word “Open” in the title. What a day!

Meanwhile, the afternoon’s events have had the effect of taking the southern border crisis out of the news cycle. No more pictures of crying children, angry protesters, or earnest info-babes wondering what President Obama is going to do about all those poor kids.

If I were him, I’d head to the Hamptons too!





Thursday, July 17, 2014

Three Stupid Arguments

I would like to take this opportunity, granted to me by the First Amendment, to obliterate three ignorant arguments currently being made concerning our immigration problem on the southern border.

1.         “This is America. We are open to everyone!!”
                          Congressman John Lewis (D) Georgia

Mr. Lewis, I would like to respectably disagree with you in the most emphatic way possible. For the sake of charity, I will assume that you were merely caught up in the moment and used this line as a rhetorical device only, not intending it to be confused with an actual statement of law or fact. Surely as an elected official of some statue, you are aware of the many restrictions that we place upon anyone wishing to come to this country. In case you have forgotten, let me list just a few. The following are a short list of circumstances that would prohibit a person from entering the United States:

1.     Tuberculosis, or any other infectious disease

2.     Ties to any terrorist or criminal organization

3.     Guilty of crimes of moral turpitude ( child molestation, rape, fraud or theft)

4.     Having overstayed a previous visit to U.S.

5.     Ever worked illegally in the United States.

6.     Any outstanding international warrants.

Every sovereign nation has a duty to control the flow of people in and out of their country. For all of the beautiful optics of Lady Liberty, Ellis Island is/was a controlled entry point for immigrants, not an opened gate.

2.                               “Fences don’t work!”

                                   Practically every Democratic politician

Yes, fences don’t work, which explains why every important and powerful politician in America lives behind one. Fences most definitely do work, a fact that every dog owner in America knows, along with every convicted criminal living in a prison. The President’s Secret Service detail also knows that fences work since the White House is surrounded by a quite formidable one. The current Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villarigosa just got finished installing a six foot tall security fence around his residence, becoming the first mayor in that city’s history to do so, yet it didn’t stop him from lecturing the rest of us. When discussing the present unpleasantness on our southern border, his honor proclaimed, “We don’t need to build fences, we need to build bridges.” Ok. We will if you will!

3. The fact that we want to build a fence on our southern border, while ignoring our northern border with Canada proves that the motivations of those in favor of “securing the border” are racist.

This particular insinuation is so sand-poundingly stupid it defies comprehension. Yes, of course, we are racists for ignoring those long lines of Canadian children flooding into Detroit. This is the equivalent to arguing that the best way to treat a broken leg is with a multi-vitamin. It reminds me of that old bit that Bill Cosby used to tell about the time when he was playing football for Temple University. It was the one and only game of his career that was broadcast on television. All of the team was told that during the game they were prohibited from touching “certain parts of your body.” Sure enough, in the first period Bill gets kicked directly in the family jewels. When the trainer runs out he reminds him not to touch “certain parts.” So Bill grabs his head! To make it look convincing, the trainer bandaged his head!!

The reason nobody is talking about a fence up north is because nobody wants to bandage the nation’s head, when we are being repeatedly kicked in the you know where down south.

Thank you for your time. I feel so much better now!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Wedding Day. Conclusion

5:30PM – Toby hustles the two of us down the stairs and into our designated spot for the grand entrance. I notice that the oppressive heat and choking humidity have subsided a bit. I hear music drifting through the tops of the grand oak trees, a piano and orchestra arranged by my son. I look at Kaitlin by my side, she is positively glowing. The last thing she says to me before we turn the corner and escape the seclusion of the lush green hedges is, “I love you daddy!”

5:32PM – As we make our way down the sweeping turns of the brick walkway, I look up and recognize the faces of some of my best friends on this planet. I see men and women who all had a hand in raising her, in shaping her character. Some of them have come from far away to be here. I remember warnings from many of my buddies that I would cry at this moment, but all I feel is deep gratitude. Just about the time we got to our stopping spot a soft, cooling breeze swept over the assembly. I managed to get through my four word speech, “Her mother and I,” without incident. I take my seat on the front row beside my wife.

5:37PM – The minister, Gordon Fort began the proceedings by reminding all that this date, July 12, 2014 would have been my parent’s 67th wedding anniversary, then proceeded to read from some of my Dad’s notes we had found just a couple of weeks ago when cleaning out his house after his death. They were in a small dog-eared three ring binder of wedding services he had done over the years. When I heard Gordon reading his words, I looked up at the top of the trees now swaying in the unexpected breeze. I wondered if he was watching, if he knew how much I miss him.

5:42PM – It was time to play my guitar. Kaitlin wanted Paula to sing and me to play the Steven Curtis Chapman song, I Will Be Here, so although it had been at least a year since I had played and longer than that since Paula had sung at a wedding, there we were beginning the song. That’s when the oddest thing happened. For the first time all day, I became overcome with emotion. I felt my palms sweating, my heart began beating loudly in my ears, my fingers began to tremble. Luckily, I never look at my hands while playing, so I buried my chin in my right shoulder and stared at the ground throughout the entire song. By the time it was over I had recovered my composure.

5:50PM – I hear Gordon introduce the happy couple as “Mr. and Mrs. Jon Manchester.” I look at Jon and he has a smile splashed across his face as big as Texas. Actually he’s had it all day. It’s as if he has a clothes hanger turned upside down stuck in his mouth. The poor guy is hopelessly in love and just can’t help himself. They disappear past me as they make their way up the walkway amidst raucous applause. It’s over. The deed has been done.

6:00PM thru 7:30PM – This is the part of weddings which I hate, everybody standing around eating cheese and crackers and fruit waiting for the photographers to do their work. Between the several summons I received to appear for pictures, I began bargaining with the Almighty over the promises I had made when praying for cool weather. While the weirdly timed cool breezes that blew during the actual ceremony were a nice touch, I’m not sure that it would qualify as “cool.” I mean, I made my request pretty clear and despite the aforementioned cool breezes, it was hot and sticky both before the service and now after the service. Any impartial observer would side with me on this one, but with God, you never know.

7:30PM thru 9:15 Dinner is served after interminable picture taking session, the only bright spot being when Toby showed up with a plate of crudités for all and two iced coffee drinks for the bride and groom. Never have little squares of cheddar cheese with carrot sticks and ranch dressing tasted so good. Actually sat down at my table and ate for at least 12 minutes. Rest of time spent making the rounds talking with the guests like a shameless politician.

9:20PM – Bride and groom begin introduction of each of their bridesmaids and groomsmen. Kaitlin as poised and graceful in front of a crowd as her mother always is, and equally beautiful. After the introductions it was time for the father/daughter dance. Kaitlin chose that great song from “The Jerk,” You Belong To Me. Halfway through dance I was kicking myself that I didn’t arrange to have a trumpet handy to whip out for the solo. Truly wonderful moment. Later there was a dance for all married couples. At various times during the song, the DJ would ask those couples who had been married less than a certain number of years to be seated. The last couple standing were my in-laws. Cool.

10:00PM – After several wonderful and moving toasts from various members of the wedding party, it was my turn to give the final toast before the cake cutting. Again, my palms began to sweat, again with the loud beating heart, I began. Except for a final perfunctory paragraph acknowledging that there was, in fact, a groom on the premises, my words were mostly about Kaitlin and what a gift she has been to my life.

10:20PM – Kaitlin throws her bouquet and Jon throws the garter. Jon’s throw was particularly impressive, since he wrapped it around a 2002 Ohio State National Championship commemorative football before sending a spiral into the amassed gaggle of single men. In true Ohio State form, Jon’s brother, the intended target, dropped the ball. Yet another incomplete pass by the Buckeyes.

10:35PM – Couple finally pass through the gauntlet of sparklers on the way to their getaway car. Taillights disappear and they’re gone.

11:55PM – Arrive home after lengthy clean up made infinitely easier by my helpful family who stayed until the bitter end helping us pack everything up. Potential mother of the bride meltdown avoided when all the leftover food from the reception was trying to be loaded into Pam’s car. There just wasn’t any room yet Pam was determined to squeeze it all in. When I noticed the wild expression of exhaustion and panic in her eyes I knew that she was unable to make one more decision, so I did. I carried an entire large pan of mashed potatoes and several other gargantuan containers of meat and vegetables back into the manor house with the simple declaration, “There is no way in the world anyone will eat any of this food!!”

12:30AM – After unloading the cars, we all collapsed on the sofas in the den, too exhausted to even speak. It was all over. After 18 months of planning, 6 months of deciding, 3 months of organizing, and three weeks of 20 hour days, it was all over.

Someone on Facebook made a comment about this picture, “The Perfect Family.” Nothing could be further from the truth. We are like every other family on Earth, full of flaws and flawed people. But this I know, the people in this photograph love each other, without qualification or reservation. Each of them have been a blessing to us and instrumental in helping Pam and I shape and form Kaitlin’s character. Without these people, and without Emmett and Betty Dunnevant, none of this day would have been possible.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Wedding Day. Part I

It has been 48 hours since Katlin’s wedding. Already my memory is starting to waver, so I suppose I better get it all down before I forget anything:

6:30AM - I am awakened by the sound of harps and a gentle breeze on my cheeks from the wings of tiny bluebirds. I look out of my window and see a rare morning rainbow, God’s promise of a day like no other.

6:31AM – I startle myself awake from a horrible Disney nightmare, convinced that I am late for my Physics exam at the University of Richmond. It then dawns on me that this is July 12, 2014 and my little girl is getting married in exactly 11 hours….which is fine since I was going to flunk Physics anyway.

9:00AM – Arrive at Carmax for the third time in two days to pick up my daughter’s car. Carmax mechanics and technicians apparently graduated from the Helen Keller school of automobile repair since none of them could manage to hear the loud whining sound coming from the rear of the car the minute it reached 30 mph on the road. Suggested that next time they may want to consider taking cars for a test drive on the actual highway instead of their parking lot.

10:00AM – Arrive at Parkside Barbershop for the much celebrated and anticipated straight razor shave with all of the groomsmen. Was served a cold Yeungling draft upon arrival, which I consumed under the reasoning that it was 5 o’clock somewhere. Charm of the place began to wear off nearly 2 hours later when my name was called, the last on the list. Charm of the place totally vanishes when it dawns upon me mid-shave that I am alone at Parkside Barbershop with no ride home, since Jon had taken Kaitlin’s car, and Patrick had headed for home ten minutes ago with my car.

12:16PM – Get text from Pam directing me to drop by Martin’s and pick up “K-cups and a large case of bottled water. When I replied that I didn’t really feel comfortable buying women’s underwear especially bra’s, she informed me that “K-cups” were not in fact a bra size, but rather a brand of coffee used in our Keurig. Made mental note to help with grocery shopping more in the future to eliminate further such embarrassments.

2:09 PM – Caravan of cars leave house headed for Celebrations. Cadillac making frightening click-click-click noise. For a minute a vision of a blown engine on 288 flies into my head. To my eternal relief, all cars arrive on time and in good order. Women of the wedding party all disappear to the upstairs of the Manor House, while the men get comfortable downstairs in air-conditioned comfort, a good thing since it is hotter than homemade hell outside. It occurs to me as I ease back on a very comfortable sofa that I am at least off the hook for all of those things I promised God I would do if he gave us a beautifully cool day.

2:48PM – Fall sound asleep on ridiculously comfortable sofa and am abruptly awakened by a sharp poke on the knee by Toby, our intrepid “event coordinator,” who implores me to get dressed into my tuxedo and meet the photographer outside immediately. While I was asleep a flurry of pressurized activity is going on upstairs, with Kaitlin and Pam trying to get her wedding dress put on correctly amidst the buzz, clicks and blur of not one but TWO photographers capturing it all for posterity. Later, when Pam discovers that I was sleeping while she was going through Dante’s ninth level of hell, she is understandably perturbed.

3:00 thru 4:00PM – Spend most of this hour walking around in circles, barking out confusing orders to anyone who looked like an employee of Celebrations. Also, begin trying desperately to get guitar in tune. 40 year old classical is temperamental in this regards in the best of environments, but in tropical heat and humidity that would induce projectile vomiting in Lucifer himself, it is a hopeless endeavor.

4:30 PM – Am summoned to the upstairs of the Manor house, and told to wait at the door to the dressing room. Inside I hear the rapid fire of camera shutters. This is one of the “money shots” of the day…Dad seeing daughter in wedding dress for first time. No pressure. No pressure at all.

4:31 PM – Open door slowly and behold as radiant and stunning a vision as I have ever seen. My only daughter looks like some kind of princess, enchanting and sublime, happier than I have ever seen her. It’s hard to be sad, impossible to cry. Why would I? This is what every father worth his salt wants for his little girl.


                                         ……to be continued….

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Bad Morning

I woke up at 5:15 after sneezing into the mask of my CPAP machine, the very definition of an inglorious beginning. Yes, I’m fairly certain that sneezing into the mask of your CPAP machine ranks right up there with wetting the bed on the Top Ten list of worst ways to start your day.

I haven’t written too much about my CPAP experiences since I got the thing over a year ago. That’s because there’s not much to tell. It works pretty well. I sleep much better than I have in years. It’s not nearly as cumbersome and uncomfortable as it looks…except when you wake up after sneezing into the stupid thing!

So now it’s 5:30 in the morning and I am wide awake. I went downstairs to make some coffee and noticed that my wife had bought me a brand new bag of Gevalia. I had been out of my regular stuff for two days and had been reduced to using some sort of fru-fru stuff from the freezer (Chocolate-glazed doughnut). Then I discovered that she had bought a bag of DECAF! Bless her heart. The poor woman has worked herself cross-eyed this past week to the point where she can be seen at 11 o’clock at night stumbling around Martin’s buying groceries. Well, decaf isn’t going to cut it, so I decide to go with the Keurig machine. My choices are as follows:

1.     Donut Shop Coconut Mocha

2.     Donut Shop Decaf

3.     Wild Mountain Blueberry

What has happened to America?? All I want is a cup of Joe and instead I am presented with items from a pastry menu. Coconut Mocha? What does that even mean? Will there be bits of coconut floating around in my cup? What genius thought of combining coconut with mocha in the first place? I love these kids you see today clutching stylish cups of Starbucks with their skinny little fingers. They just dropped $4 on a cup of over-brewed, bitter, acid water, when they could have gotten a real cup of coffee at 7/11 for a buck. Starbucks, the biggest, baddest capitalistic enterprise in America who’s most loyal customers are the type of people most likely to show up at an Occupy Wall Street rally. I’m trying to imagine George Patton marching into a chow tent during the Sicily campaign and ordering a “triple, venti, soy, no foam latte” but I just can’t. In fact, knowing George, if he heard a soldier place such an order he most likely would have slapped him.

Wow. It just occurred to me that the last paragraph sounds an awful lot like Steve Martin’s hotdog bun rant in Father of the Bride! I think the pressure is staring to get to me. I’ve got to hold it together for 72 hours. My most crucial mission today is to load up Pam’s car with all of the table decorations they have been slaving over all week and take them over to the “venue” so that our highly compensated table setters can begin their work. I just hope I don’t have a wreck or something…

State Trooper: Mrs. Dunnevant, I’m sorry to inform you that your husband has been involved in an accident.

Pam: Oh My God!!!

State Trooper: Don’t worry ma’am, your husband is fine.