My Year in Review (Part Three)

December 21, 2007, 10:00 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, David, Featured, Humor  | 5 Comments

Read Part One and Part Two!

July finally arrives and while The Bronx is Burning on national television, Alabama is burning too. After a long drought, many counties have banned certain types of fireworks, disappointing because we are traveling four hours to spend the 4th with our grandchildren.

Although my grandson had a hushed phone conversation with me (“Grandpa! Bring lots of fireworks! A big bag! You know the stuff!”), I check the list and find their county was on the ‘banned list.’ I am a little dispirited, but upon arriving, I find all the fireworks stores open, and only bottle rockets and a few other things on the “banned” list. I have always suspected that some type of work-release agreement exists between Alabama’s mental health facilities and the fireworks industry, since all the fireworks stands bear names like “Crazy Ken’s” or “Wild Bill’s,” and advertise “insane prices.” Five minutes into my visit to this particular store confirms that suspicion beyond all doubt.

While sitting around the living room, waiting for it to get dark enough for fireworks, I tell my daughter about the great books I found in June, and she asks me how much I think the Sir Walter Scott set is worth. “Who knows?,” I said. “Probably at least $600.”

I type in the publishing date (1903), size (48 volumes), and a few other criteria. We are all a bit amazed when the only match is selling for $6500. Not bad for a $60 investment. I am still staring at the screen in disbelief when I hear my daughter Teresa yell, “Dibs! I get those when Dad dies!” We are a practical family and, as the oldest, Teresa has always been good at outmaneuvering the other two.Fireworks

The fireworks go off with just one small hitch (involving the neighbors’ porch and our daughters carport), and we return the next day with our grandkids. We decide to spend one entire evening inflicting as much damage as possible on a Cruella DeVille action figure using the leftover fireworks. We are dog lovers, and after what she tried to do to the puppies in 101 Dalmatians, she will be shown no mercy. After repeatedly assaulting her with Roman candles, sparklers, M-80s, flaming spinning things, exploding smoke bombs, and firecrackers, all we can find in the morning is a charred lump of melted plastic and two small yellow feet.

If only Michael Vick had been here.

The only other thing of note was a visit to Community Fellowship Church. The first hour was pretty good, but the next 90 minutes dragged a bit. It is a nondenominational church struggling to find itself, with the unfortunate combination of Pentecostal length and Baptist dryness (no offense, Mike). At least we eliminate one more possibility.

Ian and Rachel also get a full-blooded Siberian/Malamute husky from the Humane Society, and name him Koopa. King Koopa arrives and takes over the house…

In August, the incessant noise of swarming presidential candidates finally becomes unbearable, and I am forced to take notice. Democrats John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich actually announced last December, and in January, they were joined by Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, as well as Republicans Duncan Hunter and Sam Brownback. All this a full two years before we will be swearing in — or swearing at — our next president.

In the months that follow, Rudy “the Red-Nosed” Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Jim Gilmore, Tommy Thompson and Ron Paul throw their hats into the ring for the Republican nomination, while Mike Gravel, Barack Hussein Obama and Bill Richardson join the Democratic fray. Mike Huckabee comes aboard in August, and Fred Thompson, after looking good and ducking all the hard questions for several months, announces that he will be announcing something formally . . . maybe as soon as next month.Bud Selig

In sports news, Barry Bonds breaks the all-time home run record as the San Francisco Giants and all of baseball breathe a sigh of relief. Bud Selig reluctantly attends the ceremony, and Hank Aaron participates via pre-taped remarks played on the scoreboard, explaining he could not attend in person due to unforeseen circumstances that prevented hell from freezing over.

Our son Philip and his wife Katherine are coming to visit, so we purchase a new set of living room furniture to have a pull-out sofa to sleep on in the living room. We are tactfully informed that they are still newlyweds and will not sleep in the living room for a week. Either way, the furniture is here and has to be paid for in 90 days. We decide to borrow a queen-size bed to put in the library, and I begin reluctantly eyeing Sir Walter Scott as a potential source of income.

I also begin paying the devil his due at work. Earlier in the year my son-in-law, a die-hard Alabama fan, asked if I could get him into the Auburn-Alabama game, one of the most storied rivalries in college football. My company supplies copiers for the press box for all Auburn home games, so whoever works the game, clearing jams and such, gets a free press pass and parking tag. These are VIP accommodations, and although technically extra passes are given to our company, since tickets to this game go for $500, these are not made available to me. I make a deal with my boss, though, agreeing to work all eight home games free — in return for two press passes for the Iron Bowl. He usually pays $100 per game, so I save him $800, with which he can easily buy a replacement ticket. The season starts on Labor Day weekend…

September. All year long, a crisis with China has been growing. In May, the deaths and illnesses of thousands of pets were linked to Chinese pet food manufacturers; in July, it was discovered that personal care products from China, like toothpaste, vitamins and painkillers, were also tainted and subject to recall. Finally, in August, Mattel announced a massive recall of Chinese toys, after testing finds they were tainted with toxic levels of lead. This leads to two immediate backlashes in September, with China announcing a ban on all US meat products in retaliation, and the Federal Detention Center in Atlanta announcing a halt on incoming packages for inmates, due to a flood of Chinese products being mailed to Michael Vick.

Philip and Katherine come from New York, the Hodges and Hodglings come down from Huntsville, and we are all together as a family, for the first time since last Christmas at Phil’s wedding. In the midst of the revelry, though, I have to leave to go work the first football game, and it saddens me. I am struck with the irony of doing things for your family out of love, that actually end up keeping you from them at important times. It is an evening game, and I leave reluctantly but happy, knowing they are all together in one house, eating, laughing, playing with Koopa, and watching movies together.

I have to be at the game 2 hours early, I can’t leave until 2 hours after it ends, and I have to battle the remnants of 85,000 people when I do leave. I finally get back home about 1:30 AM, and I don’t think I can describe the joy I feel as I get out of the car to see light and laughter still spilling from the front windows of the house. Everyone has agreed to suspend bedtimes for the grandkids and stay up just for me. Gazing into the living room and seeing them all stretched out on the couch, chairs, hassocks and pillows, eating pizza, playing video games, and laughing, is one of the moments I will cherish until I die.

I grab some pizza and a game controller, and join the crowd playing Monkey Ball into the early morning hours.


5 Comments to “My Year in Review (Part Three)”

  1. Hank Smithson on December 21st, 2007 1:55 pm

    I love these posts! Love ’em! But time was it’d something a touch oxymoronic about “tactfully” saying all that mess, newlywed or otherwise! My chin like to have hit the desk when I read that one, what’s a week on a couch?

  2. David on December 21st, 2007 2:40 pm

    To answer your question…a week of celibacy.

  3. Steve on December 21st, 2007 3:15 pm


  4. Hank Smithson on December 21st, 2007 3:53 pm

    My question was rhetorical, but should have read, “What’s one week on a couch?” Or alternately, “What’s one week of celibacy?”:

    [tongue in cheek]Kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and a week on a couch.[/tongue in cheek]

  5. Katherine on February 16th, 2008 10:19 pm

    “We are tactfully informed that they are still newlyweds and will not sleep in the living room for a week.” ….yeah as I recall mom informed you of that…we would have slept there..those couches were cush

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