Thursday, May 8, 2014

Kiss Me, I'm Irish

My wife and I hit our eight year anniversary this week. Not a very “big” anniversary but a celebration none the less. For the man these are the best anniversaries because there is far less pressure. We're two years away from our ten year and I already have sweaty palms trying to think up a creative, fun way to celebrate. Plus, apparently you are supposed to give diamonds for your 10 year anniversary. Diamonds. DIAMONDS. I need to start saving now, right? Once I actually set aside enough money to buy DIAMONDS I then have to pick out something she will cherish. It can’t be too trendy because this is a meaningful gift she’ll want to enjoy for the rest of our entire lives. That’s like (hopefully) 50 years of staying fashionable! I need to save money and purchase DIAMONDS that will still be in style in 2066. Oh wait, I also have to make sure that these never out of style DIAMONDS I purchase aren’t blood DIAMONDS. I can’t totally remember what that means but I know Leonardo DiCaprio really doesn’t want us to purchase them. It seems like it would be easier to avoid purchasing blood DIAMONDS if they had actual blood on them. Anyway, stressful is what I’m getting at.

Meanwhile the eight year anniversary simply consists of me taking my wife out to a restaurant that she won’t be out of place at wearing a dress, buying a small gift of some sort that doesn’t have etiquette rules tied to it, and limiting my belches to only once. And to just be completely candid, I let a poot slip during the date and she still considered it a smashing success. Eight year anniversaries are the best!

Despite being easy, our eight year anniversary did still force this non emoting man to reflect on his past with the dashing woman he was sharing semi fine dining with. During all this emoting I thought back to the first time I truly remember “seeing” Katherine. I know we had run across each other once or twice before then but she was a few grades below me and in high school people who are more than one grade behind you basically don’t exist. They are like the Bible version of a leper. I definitely remember giving her cousin (one of my best friends, Jon Keller) a hard time about thinking she was easy on the eyes. Those were my exact words because I was a very respectful teenager. “Jon, your ivory skinned cousin is easy on the eyes and I would immensely enjoy purchasing her a meal sometime.” Like I said, I was polite.

So, ok. Back to the time I REALLY remember seeing Kat for the first time. I was at the house of one of my other best friends, Will Hawk. Will’s dad was having a neighborhood fish fry because he is awesome and seems to oddly enjoy watching those he loves eat food that he prepares. One of 1,000 reasons I was insanely scared of his dad as a child. BACK TO THE POINT, BRANDON! I was in line to get my meal and Katherine was in front of me and she was wearing a high school sorority shirt which stated boldly on it, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”. I distinctly remember at the same simply thinking, “ok”.  I would like to say that I boldly followed my instinct to grab her by the arm, spin her 180 degrees, wrap my arms around her, and give her that kiss that her shirt clearly wanted me to give her! We would have instantly fallen in love, spent the next 4-5 years together dating, relishing in each other’s company through our late teen years, and had an amazing story of how we fell in love.

Instead I sheepishly placed mounds of fried fish on my plate and went and stuffed my face. I spent the next two years of my life dating a girl who was a nice enough girl, but obviously not the girl I decided to spend the rest of my life with and Katherine spent the next few years being insanely attractive in my peripheral vision.
Often when I think back on this story it depresses me that I missed out on two extra years of Katherine in my life and makes me want to go back in time and Hulk Smash 19 year old Brandon. What a goob. Your wife was right in front of you and her shirt was begging you to claim her!

Instead of wallowing in all my past dumb decisions like I normally do this time I found myself being challenged by this story. Live boldly Brandon! Ok, maybe kissing Katherine wouldn’t have been that wise. I can assure you her father wouldn’t have thought it was wise! But, speaking to her would have been an appropriate amount of bold.

Because of 17 year old Katherine and her directive giving t-shirt I am challenged to not make the easy decision. Make the decisions that might be more difficult, more embarrassing, more odd than the ones I normally make.  Make the decisions that have the opportunity to flip my entire world on its axis. Make the decisions that are story worthy.

My first decision is that on my daughter’s 18th birthday I will be purchasing her a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirt and just wait to see which bold young man comes to claim his bride. Bad parenting? Maybe. But, at least it’s bold parenting.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Hypothetical

If you had to write a word association list about Brandon Jones most of you would probably jot down, “Will Hawk” at some point. An annoying amount of my stories involve him so even if you don’t often hang out with the two of us together I probably mention his name a disproportionately enough that you realize we are "bros for life". If you ever do actually find yourself in a room with Will Hawk and I at the same time you need to know a few things.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. William, you, and myself will be using the ball of yarn in the corner of the room,  the Yellow Pages book from 1997 on the table, and the box of matches that William for some reason has in his pockets to play the world’s most intense and competitive game imaginable which will have been invented by William in the spur of the moment. The game will become famous in Uruguay in 3 years.  If you ate poorly today just leave. There is no hope for you.
  • Use the last wish from your Genie that you've been saving. You've found a Genie amongst your adventures, right? And surely you were wise enough to save a wish for a true emergency? Good. Use that wish to attain some form of bodily protection. The old school rollerblading knee/elbow/wrist pads are a good option. A suit of armor might work but could be a bit cumbersome. Possibly a hockey goalie get up. Whatever it is, you need it. Most of these games that William invents involve gruesome bodily damage. Jon Keller and I have been subjected to routine games for years that before you even begin playing you have full knowledge that some form of your body will be bleeding once the game commences. We’ve played a game simply called Box that ALWAYS results in carpet burn so bad you will bleed through your pant legs.
  • Call your local Parole Officer and verify that your background is clear. Chances are you will be arrested today.
  • Once we are bloodied, exhausted, and have made bail we MIGHT actually talk. Most of this discussion will be of the “would you rather…” type or some other hypothetical form of questioning. If you can’t quickly answer a question like, “If you could have a redo on one decision you made in high school what would it be?”, “Zombie Apocalypse or Werewolf Infestation?”, or “Would you rather have to communicate for the rest of your life in song to the tune of "Under the Sea" or everything you eat for the rest of your life taste like pork rinds?” then you are going to be extremely uncomfortable.

 So, that entirely too long set up was basically to allow you to understand that some of the integral parts of who I am are different because of my lifelong friendship with the World’s Best Youth Pastor. Much to the chagrin of my wife I enjoy spending much of my down time discussing the hypothetical.  Long car ride? I NEED to know if you’d rather be a mermaid or an eagle. Waitress is taking too long to bring dinner? Quick, if you had to punch either your mom or your dad in the face who would it be?

My wife despises this type of questioning and I adore it. It has caused many a mini fight. Despite this I continue to push and prod. Our marriage has taught me one question though to avoid and I actually think it’s a fairly common question people ask their spouse.

If I died, who would you want to remarry?

This is not wise friend. I know it sounds fun. It is not. If you feel completely tempted to play this game at least follow the basic rules below.

  1. First of all, simply remember that your spouse is not ACTUALLY dead. Whatever you are about to say has consequences. If you pick an ex girlfriend or your spouse’s sibling your time would be better spent intentionally giving yourself splinters .
  2. The question is who you would marry, not who do you think it is the hottest. Don’t be stupid. Your wife doesn't want to know which of her friends have the cutest dimple and your husband doesn't want to have confirmation that his rugged friend is actually super attractive. We are adults. Hopefully you've learned that a person’s hot factor does not necessarily equate to a happy marriage. Doing so only proves that you are a poor decision maker and that your spouse has every reason to smack you in the head.
  3. Back up your decision with wise reasoning that shows how thoughtful you are. Pick a guy/girl who would help you grow as a person and be a good parent. This will show your current spouse how you can be trusted to not be a dingbat as soon as they are out of the picture which will in turn show your current spouse how you can be trusted to not be a dingbat in the present. Not being a dingbat is crucial to a successful marriage.
  4. Attempt to pick someone who is similar to your current spouse. If your husband is bald don’t pick someone with long flowing locks. If your husband doesn't know how to walk into a wooded area and return with a freshly hewn kitchen table and matching chairs then don’t pick a man who knows how to do so. Your spouse wants your decision to remind them of how in love you are, they are not looking to learn about things you wish you could change. And for the love of Pete DO NOT PICK A WOMAN SMALLER THAN YOUR CURRENT WIFE. Ya dingbat!
  5. You might think the wise answer would be to say, “Oh, no one, after you I could never find someone to compare”. You think your spouse will glean from this your abounding love and adoration for them. Instead they will come to the conclusion that you despise your marriage so much that you would avoid it at all costs in the future.

Again, I must reiterate my belief that you should simply avoid this conversation at all costs. If your wife asks this question just get up out of your chair and walk away. If she follows you, trip her and start running. If she chases you and you realize there is no escape then and only then follow my above rules or you can steal my automatic perfect answer. It’s the only answer that will please your spouse and not leave them wondering if you are planning an elaborate elopement with the person you mentioned. 

The perfect get out of jail free card is to answer with either your pastor if you are a female or the pastor’s wife if you are a male. None of the above matters if you use this as your answer. Even if your pastor runs marathons, has dreadlocks, and is the creator of Pinterest you are still safe. You’ve picked the Godliest person you and your spouse know. This is like answering, “Jesus” in Sunday School. Even if it isn't the right answer they have to smile and accept it.

Maybe next time I’ll discuss how to handle when your spouse asks the hypothetical question of what one thing you would change about them.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Who Can I Blame?

Alright, this one requires that we all agree on one basic truth. Marriage is hard. If you are one of those weirdos who pictures marriage as doves landing on your shoulder as the couple sings duets then move on, this one is not for you. Marriage is hard and we all at numerous points in the marriage get to a place where we have to start asking some questions. The questions are probably varied from one marriage to another, but I think we can all agree that they basically take one of two paths.

Path One is the easiest and certainly makes you feel real peachy about yourself at the time. Path One is simply putting all blame on your spouse.  “My wife says I don’t do enough to help around the house, but last week I washed my pop tart dish one time. How come she didn’t notice that, huh?” This path is simple. Short term it feels awesome because it allows you to feel right and blame your jerk of a spouse for everything. Long term it’s no good because it either leads to divorce or the worst life of all time.

Path Two is hard on the ego but awesome on the marriage. Obviously it’s just the reverse of Path One. When there is an issue in the marriage you look for ways that you can improve. This requires choosing daily to love your spouse more than yourself. It’s the path that all the marriages you are jealous of take, but holy moly it’s hard. It means you must not only accept that your spouse isn’t supposed to be perfect but also accept that you need to be the one to change. Bleh.

So, Path One only works for those who really enjoy paying lawyers to take away half of your possessions and give them to the person you now hate most on the earth. Path Two requires admitting that your spouse has lots and lots of faults, but actively choosing to love them anyway. Path One sucks, but Path Two seems really difficult.

This is why I’ve come up with Path Three. In Path Three you don’t blame yourself or your spouse. Path Three is, blame someone else. This could really be anyone and it might not actually fix anything but it also at least focuses your distaste for your life of you and your spouse and onto to some other poor, innocent sap. This person can really be anyone. Good options would be one or all of your parents, another couple that grate on both of your nerves but you inexplicably continue to hang out with, or your boss who just won’t let you catch a break.

So, who did I pick for my scapegoat along this Path?


Yes, Batman.

Much like most boys, I grew up enamored with the awesomeness that was Batman. He was a detective, who had amazing toys, dressed like a boss, constantly had beautiful women interested in him, knew how to beat up people who knew karate, lived in an a mansion with a secret hideout cave underneath, and had Scrooge McDuck levels of money. If the creators of Superman cheated by giving Superman all the powers then the creators of Batman cheated by giving him all of the cool.

There wasn’t a moment that I decided that I wished I was Batman. I think it was just a given and slowly became part of my being. I wasn’t the kind of kid who wore Batman shirts at all times and plastered my walls with Batman posters because that is the exact opposite of what Batman would have done! Seven year old Batman would have beaten up the teenage bully across the street, swiped a pack of Camels out of the bully’s pocket, and smoked the whole pack while he did his daily routine of 100 sit ups and 100 push ups.

Somewhere along the way my brain decided that this exactly what a women would want. If Batman is the very definition of awesome then I need to be as much like Batman as possible. Now, I can’t exactly afford a Batmobile, I have no idea how a grappling gun works, I can’t afford a mansion, I don’t think there are any caves in my area, and mysteries are hard.

So I had to focus on Batman’s attributes that I could attain and I wasn’t even very good at those. In my mind a real man is a loner, speaks rarely, doesn’t deal well with his emotions or with past hurts,  and mostly shows his feelings physically. If Batman doesn’t like you he doesn’t say much to you and then he punches you. If Batman does like then he doesn’t say much to you and then he makes the sweet, costumed love to you.

You can see where this became an issue once married. Girls in comics might like the dark and mysterious guy who thinks emotions and talking are overrated but real girls don’t go for this. I mean, it might work great for picking girls up in the bar but not once you actually are living life with a person. Wives don’t dress in cat themed clothing while fighting crime at night and they also don’t like to be ignored.

So, I’ve decided Batman is my scapegoat. I could take Path B and try and admit that I need to really focus and pray through engaging my wife’s heart more often. I could take Path B and look at each individual situation and assess how I can better love my wife. I could take Path B and pursue my wife even harder than I did when we were dating.

But that’s all really hard and it’s just way easier to blame Batman and move on. Maybe I need a new role model. I always thought Ferris Bueller was pretty cool as a kid, I bet he’d be perfect!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why I Don't Trust Single People For Health Advice

As American custom demands, I have been reevaluating my life with the New Year. The one thing all Americans who range from slightly overweight to morbidly obese agree on is that January 1st is a wonderful time to try and lose 10-250 pounds. Sadly the company I work for decides to hold an annual meeting each and every MLK weekend, this means that every MLK weekend I find myself in a place like Miami or San Diego. It’s sad on two fronts. Firstly, it is sad because I end up at these amazing restaurants and force myself to order the healthy options instead of the 20 oz steak grilled to that perfect slightly warm temperature that results in the beautiful red color that oozes out of the meat and onto my plate and mixes with the yellow bĂ©arnaise that simply makes my mouth water. More importantly, it’s sad because it creates a memory in my mind. A memory of year after year I end up at this meeting trying to make wise decisions and I weigh the EXACT same thing I weighed five years ago at my first meeting! What am I doing with my life?
So, that is my preface to basically knowingly admitting that while this post is about me trying to better myself in relation to eating I realize that I will end up giving up at some point. In a month or two I’ll find myself two knuckles deep in a jar of Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter and with a gut the exact same size it was in December. I get it. If I can’t break my habit of biting my fingernails after 30 years I certainly am not going to suddenly rise up and conquer a Five Guys burger. I’ve heard a stat that says we all put on one pound for every year we are alive, so I guess I’ll just take pride in the fact that I’m sitting steady at my weight and move on. But, I can’t simply move on and never try and diet or work out again. Those few months of inspiration and determination are what allow me to temporarily lose weight so I stay at my normal weight long term instead of gradually ballooning in to the even fatter version of myself. By the way if that stat were true and I simply lived to the age of 75 they would have to stuff my 240 lb corpse into my casket built for a slim 175 pound frame. (Yes I already bought my casket and yes I bought it with my goal weight in mind) (Yes, I’m lying)
I tell you all of this so you’ll understand why I have been reading nutrition articles and books lately. I’ve learned lots of valuable information that I’m sure I’ll take to heart for about 26 days and then claim amnesia one night as I plow through a box of Kripsy Kreme donuts. But, one piece of information that I will NOT forget is this.

This is a vital piece of information people. If you are married and especially if you have children you simply cannot take health advice from a single person. It will not only lead to failure but most likely to a mild form of depression and a severe form of aggression towards the person giving you advice. Being married and taking health advice from a single person is similar to building a pine wood derby car for Boy Scouts and calling Jeff Gordon for advice. Yes, your goals are the same but you aren’t playing by the same rules.

So, why am I so adamant about this?

1.      Money
Single people start at an advantage to married people when trying to lose weight simply from the fact that they have more disposable income than us in relation to food. I have to feed four mouths off my income, they have to feed one mouth. None of those mouths are growing boys. My boy is 22 months old and he already sounds like an asthmatic gorilla when he eats. Every meal ends with him saying, “mess” because during the eating process he is so focused on getting the food into his mouth as quickly as possible that precision loses all meaning.

Single people will stress the importance of replacing breads and grains (how much grains they insist you cut out is a direct relation to how crazy they are) with meat, fruit, and vegetables. Hmm…bread and grains are kind of the cheapest part of my meal, but OK I want to lose weight and that requires sacrifice. Then they will insist that all of these meats, veggies, and fruits are clean organic foods and grown locally. Oooo, sounds yummy. Let me just run to the store and….OH MY GOSH! CAN I DO LAY AWAY ON THIS LOCALLY GROWN CHARD?

Yeah, look. Eating organic and local sounds awesome and I’m sure it really will make me healthier but I can’t spend 50% of my income on food. I already spaz out a little bit if my kids eat strawberries twice in one day.

Married people can’t afford to eat like single people.

2.      TIME
As a working, married man I have to wake up at 5:05am every morning to get to the gym. This allows me about one hour to work out and then a mad dash to return home, get cleaned up and dressed for work, eat breakfast, and if I’m super lucky I’ll have a few minutes for my devotional. Sometimes, even getting up at 5:05am still finds me a little late for work and my beard not quite as clean cut as it should be. Returning from work I come home to three people that missed me and desire my attention, a dinner (prepared by my wife) that needs to be eaten, dishes that require washing, kids that need a dip in the bath, kid’s teeth to be brushed, book to be read, bible to read, prayer to be said, songs to be sung, kisses to be kissed, lights to be turned off. And….it’s 8:45pm.

Now, this isn’t complaining. I LOVE every stinking moment of my life. I love the gym, I love my job, I love every moment I get with my wife and kids even if it’s spent changing a poop explosion. LOVE IT.

But, what it does mean is that this single person giving me advice can take his advice and shove it up his……ahem. It means this single person giving me advice needs to reexamine our lifestyles. I do not have time to work out twice a day. I do not have time to prepare fresh grilled meats and veggies for my lunch each day. I do not have time to go for a 50 mile bike ride every Sunday. I mean, I could make time I guess. But, while my health is important I have other things that are just as important if not more important. I know this is true because when I go on a business trip without my family I find myself with more freedom to make healthier eating choices, more time to work out at night, less temptation to swing by an ice cream shop.

I simply have a different lifestyle than most single people, and my time is taking up by the needs of four people instead of one.

3.      MOTIVES
Lastly, and most importantly, we have vastly different goals. Typically it seems that all single people (especially single men) have one goal for losing weight. DAT SEX! They want to be hotter than their friends so the girl they are interested in will choose his abs to cut butter with (people do that, right?). Single guys seem to have no other goal than sex.

I do have to also say, that sometimes it seems that sex in itself doesn’t seem to be the ultimate goal but more so simply having MORE sex than their friends. I think the video game guys have it all figured out. They all have no sex, and so they are all even and can simply be friends without all the rivalry undertones.

Meanwhile, us married people have sex on the lock down. My wife is contractually obligated to sleep with me regardless of how much Chef Boyardee’s tomato sauce is dried onto shirt and caked in beard. And she could eat ALL THE CAKE and I’d still be annoyingly touchy when she walks by me. All of us married people want to look good for our spouse, but it’s not enough motivation. If I eat so much that my back hurts and my wife doesn’t leave me, then guess what. Motivation is out the window.

A married person’s motivation is more tied into death. I now have these people in my life who I love dearly and who just based on age and gender have a much longer life expectancy than me. I want to see as much of these people’s lives as possible. So, while I’m not worried about how gigantic my delts can get, I am very worried about not dying of coronary heart failure. I just want to live! Stay away from the light Brandon! The raging pecs are just a byproduct of my desire to not die of a food coma. (I am not implying that my pecs actually do much raging.)

So, me and ol Dwayne (this is the name I picture this single guy giving me advice) have totally different requirements of our money, demands on our time, and motivations. When I take advice from Dwayne I find myself what to speak up every time he says something. He thinks I’m just making excuses, I think he is crazy. Eventually this leads to me calling him a sex crazed, self obsessed jerk and him calling me a lazy, self obsessed jerk. These words are hurtful. They are best to be avoided.

My new theory is I only take health advice from people who have a more difficult job than I do that also pays less and they must have at least 2 more kids than I do. I essentially only take advice from overworked Mormons and a even a few of them seem a bit too interested in keeping killer abs in case a hot potential second wife comes along.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Crippling Effect of the Humblebrag

Urban Dictionary took a break from defining the most grotesque words in the English language to define a useful one. They define “humblebrag” as subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or "woe is me" gloss. It’s a popular enough trend that someone wrote a book about it. I pray that book didn’t make much money, but if you take into account that Paris Hilton wrote a book that seemed to sell quite a few copies then I’m sure it sold wonderfully. I’m sure the book is funny, but any book that is just a collection of twitter updates should maybe be defined as something other than a “book”.

We all see humblebragging all the time but twitter and facebook helped it to explode. One especially perfect example of a humblebrag is this tweet by some random dude.

"Why is it that every time I have a softball game someone walks up to me and says , are you on roids ! Hahaha dude I don't even lift weights"

See what he did there. He is attempting to be humble because he doesn’t lift weights but he is in reality just attempting to tell you that his muscles are flippin’ huge. Roid huge. This dude once beat up the Ultimate Warrior. But he wasn’t even trying…so you shouldn’t be impressed?!

Humblebragging is fine. We all do it. We all complain about how we hate going to the gym, run so slow, have kids that are smarter/cuter than us, don’t deserve our spouse, etc.

I just ran 500 miles, but now I have a blister on my toe.

I just got accepted to MIT, can’t believe they accepted me despite my 4.16 GPA.

My 3 year old daughter just passed the bar exam, no idea where she gets it. I’m so dumb!

Again, we all do it. We are all proud of our accomplishments but you can’t just walk up to someone and start listing of facts about why they should be impressed. The problem isn’t the humblebrag. The problem is when we become too aware of the humblebrag. We suddenly become paralyzed in our conversation. Our convenient way of bragging without bragging has been taken away and we become super conscious of how much of what we say could be constituted as a humblebrag,

My wife and I recently completed a Warrior Dash. A 5k with 13 army type obstacles. This was our first time doing an adventure race and was an “accomplishment” for us. We were excited that we gathered the courage to do it, proud we were able to finish it, and honestly just had a blast. After it was all over I was surprised that it was a really, really easy race. This is probably what a person in Somalia has to go through just to get a bucket of water. We completely over trained for it and could have completed it without any training at all. Any of you could.

This event set me up perfect for a humblebrag. Just cool enough to impress most people but just enough to throw in some humility. And honestly I was rather excited to share that we did it.

But….the word humblebrag popped into my head. I can see through my ruse then everyone else can too! What’s a man to do?

Do I just quit sharing all events that take place in my life that aren’t horrible? Do I preface all statements with, “not to brag”. Do I just ignore it and move on?

Forget that. Life is too short to worry about all that. I’m going old school and taking the humble out of the humblebrag. I am now just going to brag….non stop….all the time…about everything.

So next time I see you in public if I walk up to you, slap you across the face, spit at you, and then say something like, “MY MUSCLES ARE MORE HUGER THAN HULK HOGAN’S” just understand that it is my attempt to avoid the internet fueled trap of humblebragging.

*Yes, I realize that this entire post could be construed as just one big attempt to humblebrag about my Warrior Dash. So in the words of the new Brandon, “I DID A WARRIOR DASH AND IT MEANS I AM MORE AWESOME THAN BEAR GRYLLS AND YOU PROBABLY JUST ATE ARBY’S WHILE I WAS DOING IT….PUNK”.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Doritos Locos Taco: Or Why I Hate Zac Brown

It's time again that I critique lyrics to a song. Obviously everyone remembers my much publicized blog post on Escape. It was epic, Dear Abby called me and congratulated me on what it meant for modern relationships. James Dobson wrote me a note thanking me for saving marriages and families across the country. My friends boosted me on their shoulders and chanted Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. So I figured it was time to again lambaste an artist for writing inane lyrics. While I was about 30 years past the release date of Escape when I gave it a good ribbing, I am only about four years behind on this one.

In my blog post on Escape I basically took a few thousand words to say that finding out that someone likes walks on the beach, making love, and eating junk food is no reason to marry that person. Everyone likes these things. If you and I had a discussion and you were to find out that I like these all you would have discovered is that I also, much like you, am a human. That's it! Don't propose to me just because I like worldly pleasures!


Zac Brown has basically taken the formula that ol' Ruperts Holmes discovered back in the 70's and countrified it. Holmes discovered that if you can write a song that is essentially just a list of things all human beings like and set it to a fun little melody you have basically just invented the musical version of the Doritos Locos Taco. Everyone likes tacos and everyone likes if you simply mash the two together and are rich! Anyone who stops and thinks for a moment about the Doritos Locos Taco realizes that Taco Bell simply discovered that people like fattening foods, don't mind if you are unoriginal and simply combine different fattening foods together, and despite watching hours upon hours of Food Network don't really care if an Iron Chef doesn't prepare their food.

Zac Brown took the same basic idea that Rupert Holmes and Taco Bell played on and wrote these life changing lyrics.

"You know I like my chicken fried
A cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up"

Time out. This guy likes the meat that is eaten the highest quantities in America, he likes beer and he likes it cold, he likes Friday nights, denim that doesn't bunch up in the crotch, and his radio loud. Notice he also subliminally gets you to turn your radio up when his song comes on! Pure genius. I dare you to not be singing along after the first four lines.

"Well, I was raised up
Beneath the shade of a Georgia pine
And that's home you know
Sweet tea, pecan pie and homemade wine
Where the peaches grow"

So this is the point in the song that Zac takes a moment to appeal to his base. Much like a politician has to occasionally step back from the broadened appeal and instead focus on the core constituency to make sure they are still on board, this is what he is doing here. "Hey all you people that typically listen to country music. I also was born in the south, like sweet tea, pecan pie, and peaches."  Notice that he mentions homemade wine, this is where he focuses in on the really hardcore base. Kind of like when a politician is forced to say something just wacky, like making a joke about Obama's birth certificate or calling a republican a racist. You just have to throw a bone every once in a while to the wack-a-doodles. No one with all of their teeth actually drink homemade wine. But...there are those few guys out there you gotta shout out to.

"And my house it's not much to talk about
But it's filled with love
That's grown in southern ground"

Alright, back to the broad approach. Anyone who would ever be caught dead listening to country music either grew up in a modest home or currently lives in one. People in the Hamptons or Orange Beach might not relate to these lyrics, but they aren't listening anyway. One more quick appeal to the base with the "southern ground" lyrics and you are on your way.

"Well, I've seen the sunrise
See the love in my woman's eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And I know a mother's love
It's funny how it's the little things in life
That mean the most
Not where you live or what you drive
Or the price tag on your clothes
There's no dollar sign on a piece of mind
This I've come to know
So if you agree, have a drink with me
Raise your glasses for a toast"

I've also seen the sunrise! I've also been in love! I've also held a child! I also have a mother! The small things in life also matter to me! Ooo, drinking alcohol again! Yaa hoo for liver disease!

"I thank God for my life
And for the stars and stripes
May freedom forever fly
Let it ring
Salute the ones who died
The ones that give their lives
So we don't have to sacrifice
All the things we love"

Woo hoo God! Woo hoo American flag! Woo hoo freedom! Woo hoo ...... Liberty Bell....? Solemn thanks to any soldiers who lost their lives. Woo hoo things we love in general!

And then we hear the chorus two more times and we are out.

There is literally no way you can live in America and make less than $250,000 a year and not have sung along to this song at least once. 

So in closing I will just sum up with one statement. 

Zac Brown IS our generations musical Doritos Locos Taco. Both appeal to everyone, make no one better, and might cause rectal bleeding.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Giant Leaps In Logic, Small Steps In Parenting

If you google “best traits in a man” the first link that will pull up is a poll that Men’s Health did of 1,000 American women. The top ten traits that didn’t have anything to do with physical looks or skills were faithfulness, dependability, kindness, moral integrity, fatherliness, sense of humor, intelligence, passion, confidence, and generosity. I’m going to guess that most women end up marrying a man who portrays about 4 of those attributes, and those 4 he only portrays haphazardly. We aren’t exactly an amazing sex these days.

There is one attribute that all 1,000 of these women soon found that their husband did perform rather nicely. Day in and day out their actions showed that this was one of their controlling personality traits.

And NO, I’m not talking about anything sexual. Ya pervert.

The one attribute that we all seem to share is a tendency towards selfishness. Self seeking is obviously a character flaw in most people, but tends to show more in men. We are the ones who want the hottest girl possible to be on our arm. We are the ones who spend beyond our means to get that dream car. We are the ones have trouble settling down and committing. We are the ones who consistently make cut throat business decisions. We are the ones who make war. We chase what we want, and avoid what we don’t.

If you’ve never noticed, I myself am a man. Sadly I had a realization about myself and my selfishness the other night. When I had this realization I was doing something that would seem the very opposite of selfish.

It was 3 in the morning on a work night. I was wide awake sitting on the couch feeding my 4 week old baby a bottle and taking extra care to routinely burp him so that he would not be kept awake by gas. My wife was sound asleep. My daughter was sound asleep. Most of Columbus was sound asleep. Heck, even the baby kept falling asleep.

If this was a movie it would be the scene that was filmed to show the tenderness of the main character. It would be that sweet moment used to show the protagonists gentleness.

I’ve even got to admit that I use situations like this to remind my wife why I am such a catch. Do most husbands do all night feedings? Doubtful. Are most husbands so caring that they leave the bedroom with the baby to avoid waking up said wife? Doubtful. Do most husbands burp their child like it is an art form passed down from generations passed? Doubtful.

Ok, that last paragraph sheds a little light on  my narcissism, but let’s stay focused more on the selfishness. I can only beat myself up so much in one day.

So, as I sat there feeding my boy I realized something. I am one selfish jerk. All of these things that I was doing weren’t based out of love. I wasn’t feeding him, burping him, and changing his diaper at 3am because I love him. I was doing it all so that he would stop crying so I could go to sleep.

I wasn’t burping him carefully because I didn’t want him to be in pain later. I was burping him carefully because if I didn’t he would wake up and cry and wake me up.

Dang. Thanks God for that 3am wake up call on myself and how much I suck.

This got me thinking further. I could go through this whole parenting stage of life and probably parent rather decent and raise decent kids, but with the wrong motive the entire way.

I could raise children that were obedient because I selfishly want to impress other people and because it is just easier if your kid isn’t pitching fits all the time. I could raise kids who do well in school again to impress others and also because it would make me feel smart to have smart kids. I could raise kids who love the outdoors, because if they don’t love the outdoors I’ll probably personally have less time outdoors. I could raise kids who eat their veggies, because it would make me feel weak to not be able to pick up my eight year old.

Yeah, I could raise some decent kids and never once base a decision out of self sacrifice or love. Their food would be eaten, their teeth brushed, their bodies washed, their books read, the prayers said…..all so they will be happy and leave me alone long enough to watch the game on TV.

And that is what makes parenting so hard! It’s not just the things you do but the reasons you do them. Does it matter? If my baby gets fed, burped, changed, and put back to bed does it matter what my reasons are? Does my heart matter?

Of course it does! Looking a head in life I may teach him to be obedient and stay out of trouble, but what happens when no one is watching or when he is older and there is no one to be obedient to? Crack cocaine…that’s what!

I may force my children to be giving of their time, skills, and finances. But what happens if I don’t teach them the heart behind those actions? Crack cocaine….that’s what!

Yep. Crack cocaine. I don’t care if it doesn’t make sense. I don’t care if it’s not the eighties anymore. That MUST be my conclusion. It is the only thing that will wake me up enough to not be selfish!

My nature may lead to me being selfish and self seeking…..but even I am not so selfish that I would let my kids fall into crack cocaine!

So, when you are making decisions in parenting make sure you are basing them out of love and out of a desire to turn their hearts toward Christ…..or else they’ll definitely try crack cocaine next time you aren’t looking.