10 Beautiful Tweets That Will Make You Book a Trip to Hydra, Greece Right Now. Written by Scott McGinnis | Goombay Tally | www.goombaytally.com | Hydra, Greece | Please contact us at [email protected] for feedback, writer and advertisement requests. For those that are unfamiliar with the Greek Islands — “Hydra” is one of the […]
Scott McGinnis | Goombay Tally
What Would You Do to Avoid D.C. Traffic?
According to a study conducted in 2013, Washington D.C. has some of the nation’s worst traffic. The study further determined that D.C. drivers were delayed an average of 67 hours annually as they crept their way up and down I-95, the Beltway, and elsewhere.
For those readers who have to endure D.C.’s incredibly congested roadways everyday, this article won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. You will resonate with these sentiments. You will softly nod your head in agreement over your morning coffee. You will shed a tear because you will have to get out in that traffic in 10 minutes.
For those reading this post who have never had the pleasure of slugging south on I-395 on a Friday afternoon, with about a million other commuters, let me paint a picture for you:
5 Things I Would Gladly Do Instead of Being Stuck in D.C. Traffic
1. Be Water Boarded
Water boarding is a form of torture where big brawny CIA agents pour water over a cloth covering the poor victims face and breathing passages, often causing the person to experience the sensation of extreme panic and drowning.
The act of water boarding can cause extreme pain, damage to lungs, brain damage, and broken bones due to the poor sap struggling against restraints, and yes, even death. If that weren’t enough, adverse physical consequences can manifest themselves months after this horrible event, while psychological effects can last for years.
….and yes, I would rather be water boarded by a pissed-off Jack Bauer in “24” any day instead of being stuck on I-95 with three hyperactive kids, a moody wife, and NPR’s thirty-minute interview with a local librarian stuck on the radio. D.C. congestion is far more suffocating than water boarding could ever be (I’m sure of it).
2. Be Forced to Watch 72 Straight Hours of “Glitter“
The 2001, Mariah Carey movie Glitter which was panned by critics and ultimately flamed-out at the box-office, is often rated amongst the worst movies of all time. Glitter was described by one popular critic as “a hodgepodge of movie cliches and bad acting that’s sure to generate unintentional laughs. Unfortunately, the movie is not bad enough to be good.” Mind you, there were reports of movie-goers becoming physically ill after watching Glitter.
…and yes, as psychologically damaging as being strapped to a chair, fed stale Popeye’s chicken, and watching three straight days of one of the most reprehensible pieces of film in history would be; being late for an appointment in Washington D.C. due to traffic, even though you left an hour and a half early, is still worse. Bring it on Mariah! You can’t hurt me now.
3. Get Into a Brawl with MMA Fighters Georges St-Pierre, and Johny Hendricks at the Same Time
St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks have collectively punched MMA opponents so hard that they’ve forgotten their own mothers’ names. Getting into a nose-bustin‘ scrap with both of these gentleman, outside of one of D.C.’s night clubs, would not bode well for me or my dental plan. Let’s not talk about the 2 million “You Tube” hits that the video would generate because some geeky Georgetown University engineering student thought it would be a better idea to film my horrendous beating rather than call 911.
However, I would be totally worth the challenge compared to staring at the goofy kid sitting in the back seat of his Mom’s Ford Focus for an hour on 14th Street in D.C., mumbling something at me that cannot be heard, but probably sounded something like, “Momma, why is the man behind us so red.” “Why are there veins popping out of his head?”
4. Be Searched Naked by Laughing TSA Agents at Reagan-National Airport
TSA has been criticized over the last five years for being cold, insensitive, and often illogical in their security processing methods. I watched a grandmother in front of me at a security checkpoint in the Midwest years ago getting searched for twenty minutes because she was bringing crystal figurines along with her on the flight. Luckily, “Nana” wasn’t strip searched by the TSA that day and I guess they finally figured out that the grandmother from Utah, really, really, really, loved crystal figurines in the shape of polar bears, and was generally no threat to the other passengers. Go figure right?
One of my standing nightmares is still getting called out by about 10 TSA agents because I happen to look like a wanted Al Qaeda terrorist. Not only am I [not] “Ahmed Jirbiliz” but I would have a snow ball’s chance in hell of ever trying to pronounce his name correctly.
In the dream, TSA agents tell me to strip naked. I look up in horror and there are about 100 gorgeous female passengers going through the security checkpoint. Kelly Nelson, my high school cheerleader crush who barely gave me the time of day back in the 80s, is the first person in line and sees me getting frisked by a 220 pound TSA agent called “Dre.” Dre has big cold hands. I begin to cry.
Anyway, I’d still go through that horrible experience at Reagan National Airport to avoid getting stuck on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge for hours because traffic is backed up for five miles on I-495. Fighting the urge to step out of my car, walk over to the side of the bridge, and jump over, would be a disturbing temptation that I’m not willing to contemplate.
5. Stay 3 Days in the Creepiest Motel 6 in West Virginia
West Virginia is an incredibly beautiful state and I’m sure the majority of Hotel 6 establishments that you visit will be just fine. However, the Motel 6 that I stayed in while on vacation 2003, was not.
Honestly, the only thing missing from the room I stayed in was the Crime Scene Investigation chalk outline where the body used to be, and the obligatory police tape stretched across the door.
I have to admit, after a long hot day on the road, I had a good laugh when I turned on the shower and the head immediately flipped upside down and sprayed the ceiling. Did I make a wrong turn at Clarksburg and end up in Kyrgyzstan?
To add more excitement to the experience, I peeked outside the window facing the parking lot and saw about three police cruisers orbiting the hotel like they were staking out hardened drug dealers. I was slightly concerned.
This was one of those motels that smelled like Marlboro Lights, Basset Hound, Taco Bell, Curry, and sweaty feet.
…and yes, I would rather hang out in that ex-crime scene of a room for three painful days instead of banging my head on my steering wheel to the point of concussion on I-270 because traffic is moving about as fast as New Jersey governor Chris Christie on a treadmill.
D.C. traffic is the absolute worst. If this article didn’t adequately relay that message for you, I invite you to get on I-95 headed north on the day before Thanksgiving. Good luck to you.
10 Reasons Why You Should Never Date a Horse Chick!
Written by Scott McGinnis | Goombay Tally | Contact us below or at [email protected] for comments or writer requests.
If you are a bro who has an affinity for anything equestrian, please stop reading this post and move on to another blog or website like “HorseAdvise.com“, “Spin to Win: Rodeo Magazine” or whatever you guys read to keep yourself inspired. This post is not meant for you. It would have no substantive or preventative value for you at all. This post is actually a warning to single bros who are still actively playing in the dating arena and have an opportunity to avoid running into, and potentially falling for a relatively small community of women in this country I affectionately call: “horse chicks.”
What is a Horse Chick Anyway?
Horse chicks are women who eat, sleep, dream, and talk about horses 24-hours a day, seven days a week. These are “lovely” ladies who diligently prioritize their lives around the care, well-being, performance, and general health of their horses and the equipment that supports them.
Don’t worry, these women will be easy to spot. They will be wearing a baseball cap with their barn or trainer’s commercial logo embroidered on the front and their ponytail will be pulled neatly through the back. In the winter, they will be wearing a riding jacket with probably a Dover Saddlery embroidery or patch somewhere on it, along with sleek riding breeches, black riding boots, or worn jeans and cowboy boots. Believe me, it will be the riding breeches that will cause you to slip up and become weak if you are not careful. Warning: horse chicks are incredibly hot! My advise: be strong when you see them and “for the love of God,” don’t look down.
According to the American Horse Council, if you happen to live in the state of Florida, the horse industry has about a $5.1 billion impact on the state’s economy when the multiplier effect of spending by industry suppliers and employees is taken into account. Additionally, the horse industry provides nearly 38,300 full-time equivalent jobs in your state. Moreover, there are nearly 440,000 Floridians involved in the horse industry either as owners, service providers, employees, or volunteers. So that means your probability of running into a horse chick at Target or Wal-Mart in Florida is exponentially higher than your bro’s in New York, where there are only about 152,000 residents directly involved in the horse industry.
Now that we’ve established the fact that there is a viable horse chick threat in this country. Let’s explain why you should avoid dating these women at all costs.
If You Haven’t Already Figured it Out … Owning a Horse Ain’t Cheap.
Well, let’s start by taking a look at the “costs” associated with owning and caring for a horse. For the unlearned bro, hearing a cute horse chick brag about “owning” a horse [only] registers to them as a fairly simple process with almost no long-term financial implications. Much like buying a German Shepherd puppy: you buy a bag of “Puppy Chow,” fill the water bowl routinely, walk him twice a day, visit the vet once or twice a year, and you’re out maybe less than $1,200. Immediately throw this perception out of the window when it comes to horse care. So here’s your equestrian care intelligence briefing for the day:
First, that horse chick you’re flirting with probably paid several thousands of dollars for her horse, and that price varies depending on the breeding, health, age, size, and performance ability of her big guy. But it doesn’t stop there dude, the initial cost of a horse purchase is only the beginning. Let’s begin with board. If your horse chick doesn’t own her own barn, she is probably boarding it in one of thousands of barn facilities throughout the country. Boarding costs could run anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 (or more) a year depending on whether she is “mucking” (basically cleaning out horse crap) out her own stall or paying some other poor guy or gal to do that for her. You’ll find that boarding facilities will “nickel-and-dime” every service out of her. For example, she will pay extra fees for blanketing the horse at night when he gets cold, feeding, administering vitamins, medication, hugging and kissing him good night, reading Black Beauty bedtime stories to him and so on.
Your little sweet heart equestrian will also fail to mention that she is probably paying anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 on tack and equipment. Oh, I’m sorry, “tack” is her fancy way of describing horse gear like the saddle, reins, bridle, harness, and stuff like that.
Additionally, she will need horse grooming equipment on top of all that to keep her “boy” clean and presentable. She will spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on these items as well. Yes, add cash register sound effect here.
I think you get the point now but let’s not forget veterinarian and farrier costs: your little girlfriend will happily spend thousands of dollars a year for a farrier to stop by the boarding facility to trim the horses hooves and reset his shoes. Likewise, she will spend another thousand dollars or more a year for routine veterinarian care. Of course, that’s if her horse has no significant health issues or injuries to fix. Oh by the way, horses ALWAYS have significant health issues or injuries to fix.
I almost forgot to mention, if horse chick is a dressage rider, that means she invariably has a snooty trainer (probably from the UK or Germany) who is probably demanding a small bundle for a one-on-one lesson in her riding arena. Warning: the trainer will look agitated, annoyed, and rarely acknowledge your presence when you visit the barn with Ms. Equestrian. You will be greeted as warmly as Sheriff Bart in Blazing Saddles. Yes, she will see you as the help. Embrace that sentiment dude, it lasts forever.
Your girl will also want to compete in any number of horse shows during the spring and summer months. She will be riding in these horse shows in an attempt to score a 60.0 or higher in her ride in order to earn credit toward her next medal. Yep, you guessed it, if she rides dressage, she won’t be sporting old jeans and a “Life is Good” T-Shirt; she’ll be decked out in her show coat, riding breeches and helmet.
Oh by the way, she will be excited about these blue, red, yellow, and pink ribbons which will signify her placing in each riding event. Yes, she will spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to complete in these horse shows around the country every year but the ribbons she is so proud of are probably worth about $1.50 a piece (Shanghai, China). You do the math. In addition to the competition costs associated with the event, she will open up her horse-print purse and spend anywhere from $50 to $1,200 on tack, T-Shirts, grooming equipment, and other vendor merchandise while waiting for her next ride time.
I can blog all day about the escalating costs related to owning a horse but here’s the narrative: When you start dating this horse chick, you will quickly become involved in some way as a financier of some of these expenses listed above. Yes, that blood-curdling, primordial scream you just heard in the distance was your savings account.
She May Tell You She Loves You … But Rest Assure, She Loves That Horse Infinitely More.
O.K., we’ve run down the economic implications of dating a horse chick, lets talk about where you will stand in the relationship if you decide to disregard my advice and fall into horse chick’s diabolical bro’ trap.
If you pay attention to one thing in this post, please understand this: horse chick may tell you that she loves you everyday as she grabs her saddle pads and wraps before jumping into her brand new Ford F-250 that’s hooked up to a gooseneck slant trailer sitting in her driveway, but she loves her horse much, much, much, more.
Imagine you and her horse are stuck on a collapsing bridge with devastating flood waters racing below. Horse chick calls 911 and within fifteen minutes the fire department, police, and Army National Guard combat engineers arrive with their equipment to get you and the horse off the bridge. Unfortunately, the team only has enough time to haul one of you poor saps off before the bridge breaks apart and sends both of you to your demise.
The National Guard Captain turns to your cute equestrian girlfriend and says, “O.K. ma’am, I know this is going to be heartbreaking for you to hear, but we only have time to save either your boyfriend or the horse; which one will it be?”
Yep. Sorry to break this to you dude, but I hope you are a deeply religious man and your will is up to date.
Again, you don’t have to take my advice, but you do have to understand where and how you will be prioritized in her life if you date, or heaven forbid, ask for the hand of a horse chick in marriage.
Remember, every decision in her life, every item she purchases, every relationship she establishes, and the totality of the time she invests throughout any given day will be forever tethered to the care, maintenance, training, and happiness of her horse(s).
Remember, every decision in her life, every item she purchases, every relationship she establishes, and the totality of the time she invests throughout any given day will be forever tethered to the care, maintenance, training, and happiness of her horse(s).
Honestly, it will feel like she is cheating on you with another man brother; a man that she spends a lot of time with throughout the week. A man who lives naked and afraid in a barn, eats hay and oats, and poops about a million times a day. After your indoctrination has run its course, you will eventually, and inevitably find yourself mucking out her horse’s stall on a bitterly cold winter morning while she’s in the arena for her third dressage riding lesson of the week. You will look across the rolling meadows, you will shiver, you will stink, and you will eventually look up and think to yourself, “how did I get here?” It will be at that point that you remember reading this post, but it will be too late. Now cowboy-it-up and stop crying you pansy! You had a choice. You blew it. You’re in too deep now. That eerie laughter you hear in the distance is your soul turning to the dark side.
If this post still hasn’t successfully persuaded you to avoid contact with every hot and available horse chick you meet in the future, your fate is in your own hands brother. Good luck.
O.K., now that I’ve fired up thousands of good horse chicks around the country with this article, please know that I won’t have much time to read your angry responses and fiery name-calling; I’ll probably be at the barn helping my beautiful horse chick wife of 13 years diligently prepare for her next show. Relax, horse chick husbands like myself are often known for having a great sense of humor at times.
Written by: Scott McGinnis | Goombay Tally | Contact us below or at [email protected] for comments or writer requests.
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Help Your Teens Find Their Social Niche
I was not considered very cool in high school. I was the opposite of cool and I knew it. I envied, and even secretly hated the “cool guys” in school who seemed to be blessed with the complete package: the physical, behavioral, social, academic, and athletic gifts that I lacked . I was not a handsome kid who had zero social skills, which consequently led to junior high and high school experience void of girlfriends. To make matters worse, I wore extremely geeky, discounted eye glasses with the caricatured black electrical tape holding the frame together for half of a school year after running into a well-positioned “pick” during basketball practice.
In fact athletics, my love for music, and appreciation for all things military served as the only substantive gravitational social platforms for me in those formative years. In retrospect, those were the things that kept me connected to the real pulse of the student population.
Oddly enough, I was able to bootstrap myself out of complete social obscurity by excelling in sports. Yes, I was a social misfit, but I was also a very good athlete. Surprisingly, this paradox kept me in good standing with the high school coaching staff during track and field, soccer, and basketball season.
To add to the dichotomy, my father instilled in me a deep appreciation for classical music at a young age and I enjoyed playing piano almost as much as I loved running the 4 x 1 relay or playing the center forward position on the soccer field. When kids in my high school were listening to Michael Jackson and Prince, I was learning to play Mozart cantatas.
Lastly, because I was a military brat, I grew up with an obsessive appreciating for the military and the discipline, values, and challenges that came along with service to your country. I enjoyed the comradely and team dynamics the most. I read World War II history books obsessively and watched the World at War mini-series every Saturday night.
So, if you mix together all those interests, a typical day in high school would find me hanging out in the band room during my lunch hour with one of my best friends at the time, Scott Hassan, who [was] talented enough to be in the band, by the way. I was not. Scott was also a brilliant computer programmer; a skill that helped propel his career and success immensely. I was essentially a band geek “groupie.” So that made me all the more pathetic to the high school social elites. For most of our lunch period, we would play the newest songs that we composed on a well-used, grand piano that looked like a city orchestra charity donation. I didn’t care. When I got the opportunity to play her, the deep, swirling, and rich sounds made me feel free. The pressure to conform to the social standards melted away for those short period of time.
During Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp in fourth period, you would find me marching on the campus drill pad, donned in my Army green and nervously double checking the spacing of my ribbons, name tag, belt buckle, and cover on my uniform before inspection. I still remember feeling sick to my stomach as the senior JROTC instructor made his way down our column during open ranks inspection. He would yell at the cadet next to me for not pressing his uniform well enough or having his “gig line” off by a quarter of an inch. Your individual inspection would always end with a quiz on general military knowledge so I would listen intensely to attempt to hear the question as the poor cadet to my right continued to take a psychological beating from the senior instructor. The pressure was unbearable. This was an open ranks inspection with vital national security implications on the line, and I was only fifteen years old.
By 4:45 P.M., you would find me on the school’s old, unpaved track running fast 200 and 400 meter sprints, and sometimes dry heaving because I didn’t take the time to eat lunch (remember, I was in the band room hanging out with the band geeks).
At the end of the day, the high school geek and social outcast who would receive zero votes in a “most popular student” election, enjoyed playing great music for an hour with his band buddies. Surprisingly, his compositions often caught the ear of some of the better members of the band who complimented him on the musical structure; even though he had no formal training. I was part of the “band tribe” at lunch. Kind of.
After lunch, I was a student of military studies and history. I wore a sharp uniform and marched in the hot sun until we learned every drill movement perfectly. I learned discipline, mental toughness, and attention to detail. I slowly became a top cadet through hard work and consistent dedication to the program. I was still unattractive, and I still wasn’t considered to be a popular kid, but I was part of the “military tribe.”
After school I was one of the fastest kids on the track and the highest jumper over the bar and I felt like a contributing member of the team. Through my hard work and achievements during track meets, I knew I gained the respect of many of the school’s best athletes. They were my “track and field tribe.”
Although I didn’t have the personality, appearance, or social gifts to be accepted into the circle of the “popular kids” in my high school, I did find my “tribes” or groups that I resonated with and in turn, they supported my talents, goals, or interests. I found that many students were so focused on the “in crowd” and what they needed to do to [be] them, they forgot how to find their own path to personal fulfillment and sense of accomplishment. They were living their lives vicariously through people they heralded as the perfect student or athlete.
I realized over time that I didn’t need to be popular to be of value. By investing in the social interaction of my tribes, I was developing those skills that would serve me well later in life. Don’t get me wrong, if your kids are popular, tell them to keep doing what they’re doing and go forth and prosper.
A study conducted in 2003 found in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine claims that people who are socially isolated possess a less efficient system to repair and maintain physiological functioning. This would include how quickly wounds heal and how efficiently they sleep. The socially isolated spectrum of that study even had a slower wound healing process and less efficient sleep cycles. Mastering social challenges in high school will equip your kids in navigating life as an adult.
However, if your child is struggling to “fit in” and may feel like an outcast; encourage them to find connections in new programs, groups, interest areas, and “tribes.” Many adolescents become frustrated because they can’t break through the social elite circles in school. The tragedy is that they spend four long years trying to please the wrong tribe. They never get to know the community of Japanese or Chinese students in your school. They never get to know the band and orchestra members, even if you don’t play an instrument. They walk right by the computer programmers who sit at their own table in the back of the lunchroom; remember these are the guys who could help them out when their laptop crashes on the night before that history paper is due. Stop by the theater and get to know the thespians and what they go through as they prepare for the next school play. Get to know the students who have physical limitations; they have unique talents and perspectives that will inspire and help them understand their challenges when they are working in the corporate world in the next four to six years.
Remind your kids that their journey through the social jungle should be their own experience, and not necessarily the one that the school’s varsity quarterback or homecoming queen is living.
Written by: Scott McGinnis
D.C. Bureaucracy and Apathy Doesn’t Stop Outside the Capitol Building
For those readers living outside of Washington D.C. and unfamiliar with a local incident on 25 January 2014 involving the death of a 77-year old man, Cecil Mills, who suffered a heart attack while walking with his daughter outside a northwest D.C. shopping center and across the street from a D.C. fire station. The actions (or inaction) following Mr. Mill’s heart attack are at the center of the controversy here in the Capital City. That’s why I will call this blog, “The Death of Cecil Mills and Common Sense in America.”
According to the official investigative report, Mills collapsed on Saturday, January 25 at about 2:44 p.m. in the shopping center’s parking lot. A 911 call was made by a shopkeeper, and it was assigned to northwest. The caller immediately corrected the call taker, however, clarifying that their location was in northeast D.C. Emergency crews responded to the Northeast DC address instead.
To make matters worse, along with a call to 911, passers-by and Good Samaritans attempted to help by running to the fire station down the street from the shopping center to ask for assistance. Reports said that the Good Samaritans soon returned to the scene stating the fire station responders would not be assisting unless someone called 911.
Yes, you read that correctly, there were five firefighters inside the D.C. fire station during the emergency, and the report confirms that all of them were aware of a medical issue that required assistance. Unfortunately, not one of them took action.
Mills eventually died that afternoon at MedStar Washington Hospital Center as the city residents were left bewildered, angered and wondering how an elderly man can have a heart attack that close to a city fire station and it take 15 to 20 minutes for help to arrive.
Now, without making broad and intellectually short-sighted assumptions about the demise of general common sense and the rise of apathy in our nation today, I think we can all agree that the Mills incident should sadden, anger, and shake us to our core. Call me crazy but I’m not so certain that this is just an isolated case of one poorly operated, marginally managed fire house in D.C. and not an indication of the endemic lack of common sense, apathy, poor judgment, and systemic inability to think outside the box (or regulations) in our country today.
Mind you, this is the same city that restricts concealed carry for law abiding citizens but can’t control the criminals who could care less about gun control. So essentially, the criminals and the Police are the only gun-totters in the city. And the last time I checked, there weren’t enough Police officers in the city to guarantee I won’t get mugged next week at gunpoint.
But back to Cecil Mills: Did the D.C. fire house have the B-Team working that day? An unfortunate perfect storm of five fire fighters who all graduated at the bottom of the class colliding with a tragic medical incident where an elderly gentlemen needed their assistance?
Here’s a better question: even if the five fire fighters had regulatory restrictions preventing them from responding to a medical emergency outside of a 911 call, what were they doing at the time that was more important than, well… “saving a life?” As a first responder charged with protecting life, limb, and property, what activity demanded the fire fighters attention more than potentially giving Cecil Mills a chance at life? Were they updating their Facebook page status? “Bored to death today y’all…wish we has something to do…” a post might read.
Was it a little too cold in the Capital City that day for these fire fighters to leave the fire house and render assistance? Maybe?
The City did take action. According to the report, the firefighters and four OUC employees involved have been recommended for disciplinary action, which can range from reprimand to dismissal.
The report also says the DC Fire & EMS employees will go before the Fire Trial Board, a panel consisting of two battalion fire chiefs and two captains. The board will hear evidence and determine their guilt or innocence, and make a penalty recommendation to the fire chief. The report says one member has already and will appear before the trial board on March 4.
In addition, four OUC employees have been recommended for disciplinary action. Several recommendations have been made for OUC dispatcher protocol going forward.
Although the city is attempting to take the proper disciplinary actions to right an obvious wrong, Cecil Mills and his family deserved better than what the city of Washington D.C. had to offer them on that cold day in January.
I think it goes without saying, if you are a first responder, your job is to protect and save life. Rules and regulations are great on paper and make the upper management and attorneys feel “warm and fuzzy,” but when someone is on death’s door and needs help, it’s your job to save that life and ask for forgiveness later. If having the opportunity to save a human life is not at the top of your daily “priority list” as a first responder, to quote the classic line by “Bob Slydell” in the movie Office Space, “What would you say, ya do here?”
The family of Cecil Mills deserves an apology from the City of Washington D.C., and maybe a little something “extra” for the bureaucratic buffoonery that occurred on that cold day in January.
Written by: Scott McGinnis
Criticizing Parents with Toddlers Will Eventually Earn You a Visit From Lady Karma!
Yes, I am an ex-single guy profusely apologizing to parents of toddlers all over the world for fighting the good fight and doing the best that they can to raise their little cherubs. Moreover, a truly sincere apology to every parent of a toddler out there that I have ever given the “evil eye” to during my wild and care-free bachelor years.
Yes, during that period of time I thought you were incredibly dysfunctional losers as I watched your little “Johnny” or “Jane” throw themselves on the floor in the middle of the toy aisle in Target and start the inevitable “jitter-bug” tantrum. I remember watching your child screaming at the top of his lungs and twitching on the ground like he was having an epileptic seizure. Apparently, what I didn’t know at the time was that the “big” parental infraction was Johnny’s mother telling him that he couldn’t have the new Legos Airport Adventure play set. Mainly, because he already had three at home already.
But as soon as you can say “OshKosh B’gosh” or “Yo Gabba Gabba,” all hell broke loose. Now sit back and watch the show.
I can still see his bright red face, the crocodile tears, the saliva drooling from the mouth, and the signature snot bubble inflating and deflating from the nostril like a creepy birthday balloon. He was traumatized by his parent’s “inhumanity” and he wanted the entire world to know about it. The world of Target shoppers.
Oh yes, I remember giving the “irresponsible” mother or father that classic look of disdain, the look of social scrutiny, censure, and loathing. “You’re a failed parent and a disgrace,” I would think to myself. “If you can’t control your little terrorists, don’t have them,” the barrage of unspoken thoughts of criticism would continue. Obviously these parents lacked the skills, discipline, and patience to raise well-mannered and emotionally stable children right?
As a single guy, I distinctly remember taking a crowded flight from Reagan-National Airport to Atlanta one hot summer morning. I sat down in seat 12-A and quickly sorting through my Jan Sport backpack to find my iPod, and my July copy of Men’s Health magazine that I picked up at the Terminal “A” news shop. With ear buds in hand and cellphone turned off, I looked forward to enjoying a relaxing flight; a flight finally free of the suffocating traffic in Washington D.C.
As the plane took off and the pilot eventually turned off the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign, I started my iPod Touch music selection with John Coltrane’s, “My Favorite Things.” Yep, I was in the zone. All of a sudden I felt a solid, deliberate, and direct kick in the back of my seat; coupled with a little annoying voice and laughter to follow. Little did I know, that kick would signal the beginning of an endless barrage of harassment from this kid, with the mother occasionally telling “Johnny” to “stop kicking the seat honey.” She obviously wasn’t doing a good enough job of convincing him that the nice man in front of him would eventually lose his mind and rip the tray from the seat in front of him, tossing it clear into the laboratories at the other end of the aircraft.
Eventually the kid did stop kicking the seat after I gave another furtive glance over my seat toward the mother who was now at her wits end and probably cursing the father who was probably just teeing off at some exclusive Golf course in Fairfax County. She secretly prayed that lightening would strike him down on the ninth hole.
Eventually, it became clear that “Johnny” really only stopped kicking the back of my seat because he was bored, not because he realized that it was annoying the heck out of the man sitting in the seat. To my chagrin, Johnny was now interested in the mechanics of the sliding window shade next to him since mother thought it was a great idea to put the child in the window seat. As you guessed, he began raising the window shade and slamming it non-stop for another ten minutes.
Not being able to take too much more of the distraction behind me, I quickly glanced over my seat again at the kid, then at mother. At that point, Mom looked completely exhausted and ready to open the cabin door and free-fall without a parachute to her demise. I looked into her cloudy, light brown eyes and realized that her soul was no longer there; it actually departed her somewhere over North Carolina. But even then, I had no sympathy for Mom.
The kid behind me eventually fell asleep and yes, I was able to listen to my Jazz compilation in peace until landing in Atlanta. Even today, I believe the poor mother “drugged” her son with Children’s Benadryl to accelerate nap time, but I can’t confirm that for sure.
Now fast forward the clock eight years; I am now married and have a newborn and a overly-exhausted two-year-old daughter sitting in a seat by herself across the aisle from Dad. We were returning from a challenging vacation in Italy and getting ready to depart from Rome to Philadelphia. Unfortunately, I knew there would be trouble when my daughter ceremoniously crossed her little arms in frustration as she starred at the seat in front of her. She slowly turned to Dad and said in the little toddler voice that you would expect to hear and said, “are we there yet Daddy?” Mind you, the plane was still sitting on the hot, steamy runway at the Fiumicino – Leonardo da Vinci Airport waiting for takeoff; and yes, the flight from Rome to Philadelphia was nine hours and fifteen minutes.
Well, as you already imagined, my daughter kicked the living crap out of the back of the passenger’s seat in front of her like she was practicing for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Soccer team. I spent hours in the air preventing her from driving the other passengers crazy and profusely apologized for her throwing coloring books and “Goldfish” over the row of seats in front of her.
Then something miraculous happened.
The passenger sitting directly in front of my daughter slowly and calmly turned around and looked at my daughter. Expecting the evil eye that I delivered to so many parents during my single years, I was pleasantly surprised to see the wide an inviting smile of a young 20-something female (probably a university student).
Instead of sending a piercing and stern look my direction; lecturing me for being a “failed and pathetic” parent, she handed my daughter her cellphone with the app Candy Crush loaded up and ready to play. “Here sweetheart, give it a try,” she said in a warm and calming voice. My daughter immediately stopped her restless kicking and took the phone from the angel passenger. She smiled back.
The passenger gave a final smile and glance at me, and turned around. For the next hour my daughter was completely enthralled by the popular game Candy Crush and the rest of the flight was peaceful and quiet.
It was during that hour that I remembered my unfair anger and frustration with “Johnny” and the disdain I had for his poor mother for not stopping him from using the back of my seat as an Adidas soccer ball. Karma had finally come for me, and I knew it. But instead of helping an exhausted and frustrated young parent, I shamed her and added to an already stressful situation.
Yes, I felt like an jackass.
But it was also during that flight that I finally got it: 95% of those parents that you run into at Target who appear not to give a care in the world what their little brats are doing in public, actually do care. Unfortunately, they are just burnt out, frustrating, and completely out of energy to do anything about it by the time you see them. These are parents that understand that they have to fight the meaningful battles. They know that there are some battles that are less significant than others, and meant to be fought (and won) on another day. The day that you saw them struggling with Johnny, was not that day.
Right or wrong, I now understood the grand parental strategy, and I had become that strategy’s staunchest practitioner and doctrinaire.
Yes, I get it, there are truly horrendous parents out there in America who should be legally prohibited from ever propagating again. They are the ones that leave their kids home alone in bed while they get their “boogie on” at the local dance club. We read about these geniuses in the newspaper everyday. We see them being carted away by the police on the five-o-clock news; shielding their faces from the cameras using a dirty towel. These people will have to answer to the judge or society in general, later in life. I’m not talking about those folks. I’m writing about hard-working parents who really care about raising great kids, but also understand that parenting young children [the right way] is hard work and that some days are just more challenging than others.
So if Johnny’s parents happen to run across this blog in the future, I would like to sincerely apologize for calling you a pathetic, failed care-giver. I’m truly sorry for judging you. Consider us now card-carrying, battle-scarred members of the same club now. Please accept my apology in the spirit that it was presented to you or any other parent that I may have disparaged during the naivety of my youth.
Now please take a deep breath, smile, wipe that apple sauce stain off of your shirt, and we must never speak of these matters again.
Written by: Scott McGinnis | www.GoombayTally.com