Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Will Hunt You Down

“Brock, I’m tellin' ya, there ain’t nothin’ like sneakin’ up on a herd a them things, pullin’ out your gun, takin’ one of ‘em out, and then mountin’ the crap out of ‘em. You ain’t a man until you’ve experienced that, I tell you what.”

I don’t know if we’re talking about hunting down a bull elk, or stalking an ex-girlfriend to the point of getting a restraining order, but neither of those sound very appealing at all.

For full effect, download “All For Nothing” by Linkin Park, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

“What is your problem Brock? You might as well just turn in your man card if you don’t love just bein’ out here on God’s green earth starin’ down packs of animals with your binoculars from three miles away. You ain’t a man sir, that’s ferdamnsure. Chuck Norris, the manliest man there ever was, would agree with me.”

Well, I have saved a seven-year old from drowning, began shaving when I turned 12, played enough football to cause brain damage, and have seen all five of the Die Hard movies without shedding a tear, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m as manly as they come. Just because I don’t get all hot and bothered by sitting in a tree stand for six hours while it’s pouring rain so I can track down a four-pointer in the middle of nowhere does not mean I need to turn my man card in to you, or to Chuck Norris for that matter.

“How can you not just love hunting? You ain’t American’ son. That just ain’t right. Shootin’ an animal is an experience you just can’t duplicate. We gotta get you out there. We gotta get you killin’ somethin’, then you’ll be hooked I tell you what.”

When I was 18 years old I tagged along with my Uncle down to San Antonio, Texas where we stayed on an exotic game ranch full of animals that were thousands of miles away from their natural habitat. One Saturday morning my Uncle came to me and said, “Brock, let’s go get your first kill.” So I got off the couch, turned off Spider-Man 2, jumped into a jeep and started a voyage up the mountain looking to start stalking my prey. About 10 minutes up the dirt road we came upon two bighorn rams sitting around looking for daisies to munch on about 100 yards ahead of us. My Uncle leaned back, handed me a rifle and said, “Take ‘em out boy, them’s some sweet pickins fer ya.”

Holding the cold steel in my hands I sized them up, took a deep breath and pulled the trigger, missing them both by a mile. It didn’t matter though, the rams stayed out in the field munching on their daisies, almost like they were chained to the hill and drugged down with depressants to prevent them from having a panic attack if any loud noise went whizzing by their ears. My Uncle shook his head grabbed the gun and sized the animals up in the scope for me. “All you need to do now is just pull the trigger boy.” I took another deep breath while staring them down, did what he said and dropped one of them like it was hot. Cheers and slaps on the back went around the jeep as we drove up. We jumped out, took a few pictures, handed the ram to the rancher and drove back to the ranch house where I returned to the couch just in time to catch the end of Spider-Man 2.

That is my experience of hunting. A ten-minute drive and a force-fed rifle scoped up and handed to me. I don’t know how you think I became more of a man because of that Saturday morning.

“There’s something about hunting that you can’t really describe in words. It’s about being one with God, and reflecting with Mother Nature. It’s giving and receiving, finding your balance with the Universe, and then pulling the trigger on a .338 LaPua to drop a bull elk right in its tracks. You ain’t a man ‘til you’ve experienced that.”

If your definition of being a man is a cross between the lyrics to the Pocahontas soundtrack and having a massive case of Small Man Syndrome just so you can tell a worthless story about the head on your wall that you mounted, well, looks like I’m switching sides. Can someone get me Chuck Norris on the line so I can send him my letter of resignation. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shut Your Face, Old Man

You know you’re getting old when none of the students in your class ever had a MySpace account.

That, and not a single one of them have a birthday in the 80’s.

For full effect, download “30 Something” by Jay-Z, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

Maybe I have yet to reach that haunting realization that I’ve been walking God’s green Earth for three decades, but I’m still getting up there. Scary, I know. I’m old enough to remember when the first Bush was in office. At times I can tell when I am dated. And that was made evident this afternoon as I sat in front of 30 something freshmen and sophomore college students and debated the alter-egos we developed with the birth of social media.

“Just think for a minute, did any of you notice that your personality changed when MySpace was invented?” I asked them.

Cue awkward cricket sound as all of them looked back and forth with confused looks of perplexity wondering whose space I was referring to.

“MySpace? Professor Bybee, I don’t think any of us ever used that old program. I remember when I made a Facebook account though.” The random student on the front row replied.

“Are you kidding? I’m talking about the foundation of social media here, the one that started it all. That corner of the Internet that was officially yours, with a customized background and personalized DJ all in one, the epitome of online interaction!”

“Are you talking about Instagram?” One of them asked.

“No, I think he’s talking about Facebook. That came before Instagram, because they bought them out. But this MySpace thing, was that like for an older generation?” Another one added.

“Wait, do you mean TimeHop? Cause I can see what I was doing on social media like five years ago, it’s crazy.” The pair of braces said.  

“No, that’s just trending right now, it’s nothing old like Facebook.” The blonde from Kansas argued.

“Hold on a second,” Aristotle on the back row interrupted. “MySpace is that one site that independent musicians use to advertise for like new albums and stuff isn’t it?”

The bickering went back and forth among the 30 somethings while I stood at the front of the classroom with my face in my left hand, SMH. I understand that none of them were born in the same era as Punky Brewster, Trapper Keepers, or The Breakfast Club, but dear Morgan Freeman, did their conscious understanding of reality begin on their 16th Birthday? Just because MySpace didn’t start trending until 2005 does not mean it never actually existed in their lifetime.

“Look, never mind about the whole MySpace thing kids, the point of this discussion is that we have changed as a society due to social media. Whether or not you remember that change, well that’s a completely different discussion to have.” I said. “And by the way, thank you for giving me fuel to feed my blog.”

“Your blog? What’s a blog?” The front row asked.

Oh honey…

Sunday, August 24, 2014

One Of The Best


I have eleven sisters. Shocking, I know.

One of them is a loyal Buckeye like me, one of them I have never met, and one I haven't spoken to in over a decade. One of them got married on a beach, one of them is potentially half black, and two of them are in the seizure club with me. Eleven women have impacted my life over the last 24 years.

But today I want to tell you about the one that I admire the most.

For full effect, download "Keep Holding On" by Avril Lavigne and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

When I was five years old my Mom walked me into a funeral home in Logan where I was introduced to the concept of grieving and black clothing and standing in line to look at a dead body. We did the rounds and paid our respects, and I touched the nose of a pretty, silver-haired lady who was taken from this Earth a bit too soon. I had no idea who she was. Hell, I was five. I had no idea who anybody was at that point in my life. To the left of the casket I saw a man with five little girls wiping tears from their eyes. This man was about to bury his wife. These girls were about to bury their Mother. And little did I know that in five months, I would be sharing a bathroom with all of them.

Fast forward eight years to the front seat of a maroon Cadillac doing its usual rounds of driving to Salt Lake City and back to support a fiasco-ridden pyramid scheme that would later be a multi-million dollar disaster. I sat in the front seat of that Cadillac and bonded with one of those girls I had met at the viewing. The ginger wearing glasses to be more specific. We connected over country music, Fritos, and Pepsi Blue. We talked about the meaning of life and the direction we were headed. She was a clear favorite of the five sisters that I inherited. And I think it's safe to say that I was her favorite brother.

Fast forward three more years to the fall of 2000 where an uncomfortably awkward junior in high school was knocking the teeth out of offensive linemen across the Wasatch front. I was playing a sport that I didn't love, a sport that I dreaded showing up to practice for, a sport that would later be a key factor in my brain-damaged legacy, but that's neither here nor there. I was on the field reveling in the pride factor of high school athletics, not because I wanted to be the best defensive lineman that Roy High School had ever seen, no, I was out there because I didn't want to let my sister down.

"I don't think I'm going to play football anymore Laura, it's just getting too hard." I said to her one summer afternoon while we were camping in Bear Lake a few months before the season.

"It's too hard?" She said. "Of course it's hard Brock, everything in life is hard. You can't just give up on something because it's not easy. You will never grow into a man if you just give up on something when it gets a little sticky. No, you will play high school football Brock, there is no way in Hell I will let you quit on this."

She didn't let me quit. And she was right. The endless hours of high school football helped carve me into becoming a man.

Fast forward to the winter of 2003 where I woke up feeling sorry for myself about having to talk on the phone the night before to a man who in my eyes had abandoned me. I felt that my life was hard, that my life was tough, that it was more difficult than anyone else's out there. I thought I had more trials, tribulations and kicks in the nuts to deal with than Job himself.

And then my sister called me that afternoon to tell me her nearly four-month old son Jackson had died that morning from SIDS.

Somewhere out there, Job was shaking his head.

Rather than throw up the white flag, hand in her letter of resignation, turn in her badge and gun, my sister and her husband decided to buckle down, take the licks that life had given them, take the higher road and move on. They decided rather than quit cold turkey on raising a family to take the opposite route and raise three beautiful children instead. Life is hard kids, it never eases up. There are moments when you think you have caught your breath, when you think you are back on your feet, but those are only swept out from underneath you when God decides to punch you in the ovaries and see how you can handle it. For my sister Laura, those devastating moments that would cripple anyone else are but bumps in the road. They are merely formalities.

When it comes to the dating world that us single people are wandering around, everyone has a certain criteria that they want their potential spouse to meet. They have a list of qualities and characteristics that they hope their significant other can live up to. Don't deny that because you all know it's true. We all have a certain type of someone that we want to come home to every night.

With that being said, when it comes to the type of girl that I want to one day take to the altar, I too have a list of qualities that I want her to have. I want someone who I can connect with on long road trips, discussing the meaning of life over grungy food. I want someone who motivates me to be a better person and incites a passion to not give up when things aren't as easy as I think. I want someone who can go through Hell and back and still have a genuine smile on her face. Honestly, I want someone who is like my sister Laura. A sister who I admire, who I respect, who I love more than Ohio State. I want someone like her.

Because she's one of the best women I have ever had the privilege of sharing this life with. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I'll Pin That

Sometimes when I get bored making breakfast in the morning, I recreate popular Pinterest posts with my artistic talent for the execution of live eggs. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

You Watch Your Mouth!


“This seems like a pretty nice place. Do you come here a lot?” I say.

“Not really, only when I want to take advantage of good-looking guys with deep wallets on first dates.” She says.

For full effect, download “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

Kids, before I delve into that one night with that one girl in that one place that I’m going to be very vague about for the sake of liability issues, I just want to tell you that I have had some funny stories happen to me over the years, stories that have pushed me to fits of tears and upchuckles of laughter. This one however, well, this one was an instant classic the moment I made a pretty girl turn an angry shade of embarrassment by a philosophical reference to a slang term about male genitalia.

For the record, I would also like to add that I only fit one of the three prior qualifications that she stated she was taking advantage of. I do not own more than one motor vehicle, I have not posed for GQ magazine as a side gig, I was simply the next twig and berries in line as a suitor. A blind suitor I might add.

“So do you enjoy this part of the neighborhood? I mean, what the heck keeps you entertained in these parts?” I say.

“Oh there are all sorts of things that keep me busy. But I must say that when I’m feeling like I need a break, I just go dancing. That fixes everything.”

For the record, I would also like to add that this was a very pretty, very flexible, very stereotyped girl in her mid-twenties who was chewing on some fancy pants $12 appetizer in between sentences. Think about it, what girl has never said the words “Sometimes I come home from work, I turn on the music, and I…I just gotta dance!” I know. My point exactly.

“Dancing can be addicting. I wouldn’t know because I’m a heterosexual Caucasian male over six feet tall, but I’m sure it does wonders for anyone else who isn’t in that demographic concoction. What do you do in the meantime to pay the bills?” I say.

This is the part where I tell you that in order to have a successful conversation on a blind date between any man and woman, 61% of the dialogue must come from the side who is wearing makeup. True story. If you, the male, think it’s your job to tell her about that one time when you were in high school and you hit a home run in 6th period P.E., or about that one stalker ex-girlfriend who burned a hole in your apartment, well sorry son, this might not be your night. Shut your mouth and let her talk. That’s a fundamental of dating.

“Anyway, I’ve been blathering on about myself for too long. What are your plans for the next few years? What’s the next big thing you want to tackle?” She asks. 

Brace yourself kids, this just might be the moneymaker.

“Well, I’ve got plans as far as what I want to do for my career, and my schooling, but one thing I’ve come to learn is that things never really go according to plan. One day we’re on cloud nine living the dream, the next day life decides to throw a wrench in our plans and theoretically kick us in the nuts.”

She brings her left hand to cover her mouth and looks down at the $900 freshly shaved wooden table. Raising up the pointer finger on her right hand like a third grade girl scout begging for the teacher's attention, she swallows back what appears to be a mouthful of tears and embarrassment.

“Pants.” She says.

“What?”

“Kick in the pants. I have dated many projects before in my life, but one thing I will never allow is to be courted by a man who has a foul mouth.”

This is the part where I bring my lips back inside my mouth and bite a hole in the left side of my cheek trying to hold back my vomited response of laughter in this sweet young dancer’s face. Yes kids, she said pants. That line was verbatim. Our meal would go on, but only with an awkward asterisk hanging over our heads because of my foul language. Things weren’t the same. We didn’t click. We didn’t mesh. I didn’t care anymore about her obsession with dancing, and she could tell. Which led her to probe deeper into my character about ten minutes after her rebuking of my spirituality.

“What would you say is a dealbreaker when it comes to dating a girl.” She asks.

“Hmm…that’s a very layered question. I mean you’ve got the basics, like if they have a kid, or have been married three times before we met. But then there are the smaller things, like girls who lie on a repetitive basis, or girls who have a hard time saying the word nuts.”

She looks up from her $19 plate of carrot cake and begins to turn pink like a sunburnt ginger.

Check, please!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Golf Makes You Nuts

There are two reasons I think have finally put me in the subcategory of a senior citizen. 1. When my teenage server born in the late 90's at Cafe Rio greets me with the title of "sir" instead of "buddy", and 2. When I look at the sport of golf as my ultimate relief of stress.

For full effect, download "Black Betty", by RamJam and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. Go ahead, you can thank Rick Palmer for that one.

You have all heard my rants on things that I just do not understand whatsoever. Water bottles, Guys in pink shirts, Spongebob Squarepants, you know the gist. Golf however, holds a feeling in my heart as to something I used to abhor like a Michael Bay film, but now adore like my Mom's thanksgiving Jell-o.

Growing up my Dad was an insane golfer. Insane kids, I promise you that. This was a man who would snowplow the fairway in December to get a few extra sessions in. A man who had the Royal Greens clubhouse as the only phone number on his speed dial. A man who was late for his own funeral simply because he had a tee time that morning and was trying to squeeze in the back nine before the eulogy was read. Yeah, he loved golf that much.

Now coming from my 6-and-a-half foot tall perspective, golf just isn't my thing. I never understood how people got enjoyment from hitting things all over the place and then walking to hit them again. I couldn’t figure out how to “read greens” or how to use a pitching wedge 30 yards out. I didn’t really know why a bunch of old guys liked to play with their little balls all day long (no pun intended.)

Don’t ask me what I was thinking the first time I teed up a shot. Maybe it was because I was trying to be part of my college X-Club golfing extravaganza, or that I owed my BFF at the time Holland a favor for a few things that I’m not proud of. Heck, I had probably been smoking pot that morning for all I know, which in turn motivated me to lace up and tee off.

Three hours, nine lost balls, and a broken axle on the golf cart later, I confirmed my abhorrence for the Tiger Woods pastime. And no, I am not referring to unnamed prostitutes and a beat up Escalade.

I was Tin Cup plus Happy Gilmore. The Dwight Howard of the 19th hole. A man who confused golfing with croquet. I was a maniac. I thought I did pretty well out there. I think I shot a 36? 37? And then on the second hole I shot a 31? Something like that. It was such a catastrophe that by the 5th hole, I simply started using nothing but the six iron. To tee off, chip, putt, wave around in madness, and smack myself in the face with. Well, that and my hand wedge…

The way I was looking at it, I was looking for a bowling score out there, and trying to get the highest score. And I did. I shot so well I broke 100. On 9 holes. Which in golfing terms is something viewed at in almost a reverse perspective. Either way, I was on fire. Holland put it best when he said if I was going to pay the 19 bucks to be out there, I might as well try and take as many shots as possible.

At the time I didn't think I was bred for the sport of golf. But things have changed. Golf is my addiction. It's my release. I'm no pro, or amateur, or novice, or person with any type of experience in this sport whatsoever, but I still L-word it. I know my 96-year old three-fingered dead great grandpa could a tee shot with a putter further than I probably will ever drive period. Maybe it's that I haven't bought into golf apparel and still wear basketball shorts when I tee off. Yeah, that has to be it. The fashion. My lack of nipple high slacks and plaid collared shirts with a goofy beret ensure I will never fit into the golf world. The fashion could my Achilles heel in this whole thing.

Somewhere, my Dad is shaking his head.