Happy Halloween to all the dorks out there.
emories are the currency of childhood. Whether it’s playing in the dirt on a Saturday or some epic, once-in-a-lifetime story they’ll be telling their grandchildren, it’s our job as parents to provide the experiences that those memories are made of. I make no bones about the fact that I try to tip the scales for my kids in the latter direction as much as possible. Hell, I’ve got an entire blog dedicated to it. Recently the planets aligned in just such a way as to turn what promised to be an awesome childhood memory into something truly epic. This is the story:
The last few years we’ve done the cheezy, family-Halloween thing. Last year we were all Harry Potter characters. Many, many months ago during family movie night watching “Princess Bride” we decided that that was going to be the theme this year. We divvied up the roles and the kids gradually got more excited as they pictured themselves dressing up in the rolls they would play. Meanwhile I started planning in my head how to get my entire family dressed up, because you know I wasn’t about to do no store-bought costumes.
The costume-making began in earnest last month when I took Episode IV out to Goodwill to hunt for Inigo Montoya gear. 20 minutes in the shop and she came out with all this gear. You can see she was already getting into character. The kids got more and more excited as each piece of the puzzle got put together and as Halloween approached.
Slowly but surely, piece by piece, hot-glue burn by hot-glue burn I got all 5 family costumes put together, posting updates on Facebook along the way. During a long drive I heard on NPR an interview with Cary Elwes, the actor who played the main character in the story, the same character Episode V was dressing up as. Apparently he’d just written a book chronicling the making of the movie and was making the publicity rounds. That prompted me to post this picture of Episode V stating “It’s about 80% done. Still a couple details to get nailed down.”
Later that day I got a message from a friend over Facebook:
“You know Cary Elwes is signing copies of his book in the area this week, right?”
My response was less than elegant. “Uh… now I do.”
It was time to swing into action.
A quick glance at the week’s schedule. Yep… it was doable.
There was a panicked trip to the arts and crafts store, a few more hot-glue burns, an emergency Amazon.com purchase, but I was able to get the finishing touches put together on the big kids’ costumes just in the nick of time. On the day of the event I picked the kids up from school and whisked them away into the minivan for a long drive up to where we were headed. 2.5 hours later we made it up to the location to find people already lining up on the side of the building. One thing minivans are good for: changing into your Halloween costume without having to locate a public bathroom.
Episode IV was a little nervous at the prospect of heading out into public in her full costume, which was understandable since there’s a cheesy moustache involved and she’s 8. I gave her the option of dressing down, but she decided she’d go for it and it was a good thing she did. The evening was all uphill from there. As the three of us crossed the street and they came into view of the people in line, the crowd erupted in applause. We worked our way to the back of the line and everyone along the way complimented them on how amazing they looked. The wait was shortened by people coming up asking to take pictures with my kids in their costumes. They ate it up.
As we walked into the building the manager told them “Wow. Those are the best costumes I have ever seen.”
As we took our seats people turned around to tell my kids “Oh my gosh. You guys look amazing.”
Then the main event. Mr. Elwes came out and told some fun stories about making the movie. He was funny, charming, gracious… and 5 minutes into his schtick he stopped suddenly, looked at Episode IV, pointed to her and in front of 300 people in the room said “You, with the moustache. God bless you.” At one point he asked the audience “How many Men In Black are there here tonight?” Episode V stood up and again the crowd cheered.
When it came time to sign autographs and meet the fans he was particularly gracious when Episodes IV and V came around. He came out from behind the table, again to the cheers of the whole crowd, and gave some extra time to my kids. He played with them. Mugged for photos with them, and was an all-around gentleman.
When it was all done I loaded two exhausted kids into the minivan for a very long, very late drive home. Along the way I got this text message from my wife, and I knew it was all worth it:
“No. Who the hell likes getting up at 5:00 am to get bossed around and beat up before going to work?”
My wife asked me if I feel better.
“No. My trainers are incredibly effective. They hit a different muscle group each time so I’m sore EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.”
My wife asked me if I’m going to keep doing it.
“Yes. I’m going to keep doing it.”
The truth is I do feel better. I can get up and down off the ground more easily when I’m wrestling with the kids. I can pick up Episode VI and throw him on my shoulders now without feeling like I’m on the verge of collapse. I’m don’t seem to be losing pounds or inches, but I can feel my arms and shoulders are thicker and my core is more solid… or at least it doesn’t jiggle as much.
I plan on bitching and moaning every step of the way. I’ll never be one of those people who enjoys exercise, but it’s still got to get done. It’s one of those things that responsible people have to do… like paying taxes. Here’s to being a #HealthyDad. Thanks to Anthem Blue Cross, who sponsored the campaign, for including dads in this important discussion about family health care. My views are based solely on my experience as a parent, and not as a medical professional.
he other day I had Episodes IV and V loaded up in the minivan running an errand to who-can-remember-where in order to get who-can-remember-what accomplished when we came upon a large gaggle of middle school students just leaving the school, walking across the intersection where we were parked. Two of the students were lagging behind the pack, and my kids quickly picked up on the slightly different behavior they were exhibiting:
Episode V: “Daddy, why are those two big kids holding hands?”
Episode IV: “It’s because they’re brother and sister, or maybe it’s because they’re best friends!”
Episode V: “Aha! Just like me and Macayla!!”
Yeah, kids. That’s exactly it.
(Editor’s note: Macayla is the little girl from Episode V’s kindergarten class whom he informed us he would be marrying. She’s the same girl who just wrote a bunch of I-love-you’s all over his birthday card. We are currently in negotiations with Macayla’s parents regarding a dowry.)
There are moments when you feel the indelible stamp of history. There are moments when you know that this instant in time is a memory being made. There are moments where you feel so strongly the tight threads of family that connects us through time. You see the little hand in yours and you feel what it means to be a proud father. Then you see the other little hand in his hand and you feel what it means to be a proud son.
When my father, my son and I all held hands I felt the enormous weight of the present and the tremendous responsibility of being there… of being there then, in that moment, feeling it and sharing it for what it was, right there and then. I thought of how proud I am to share my children with my parents, and of how proud he was to share us with his.
I thought of how I missed my father’s father – of how I missed his old, tired, weathered hands which I held and knew so well, now some 20 years gone, and I dedicated a few steps to the memory of him, the missing man from our hand-linked chain of history. I thought of how much my father must miss him, sharing his children and his children’s children with his own father, and I related to my father as the son of a man deeply loved. I looked over at my father, holding my son’s hand and I dared to hope that someday my son will want to share his children with me. I imagined what it would be like to someday hold my son’s son’s hand in the same way, and I related to my father as the father of a son deeply loved.
You cannot fight the relentless progression, and it is just as right to feel the stinging absence of those long gone as it is to anticipate with joy those memories to come. But it is the moment, THIS moment, in the here and now, this is what we live for.
t is a rare opportunity to be able to use a blog for genuine good. I share most people’s discomfort with “causes” and “fundraisers” but the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a friend and his family, a friend who did so much for a community that has made such a difference to me… well, it was a moral touchstone I couldn’t pass by. You have all been so patient with my Facebook and Twitter updates on the subject, and you have generously spent your precious time over the years reading what I publish here. Believe me when I say I appreciate it and am humbled by your consistent patronage. Thank you.
There are 4 days left in my dorky t-shirt selling campaign, from which 100% of the profits will go to the fundraising campaign to benefit dadblogger Oren Miller and his family after his recent stage IV cancer diagnosis. Two of the 5 shirts offered have reached the “tipping point,” which is to say they have sold enough to officially go to print, but three more are just shy of their target. In an epic #timingfail we realized that the campaign will end on a holiday, so we don’t expect last-minute t-shirt enthusiasts to be engaged when the campaign ends on Monday.
So one last time, I’m asking for your help.
Straight from the scene where Luke, Han are in the gun turrets of the Millennium Falcon, escaping the Death Star. This is what you see on Luke’s targeting computer when he hits a TIE fighter and shouts “I GOT HIM!!” and Han replies “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky!” Any Star Wars nerd in your life would appreciate this shirt for what it is… pure awesome.
If you don’t get it, watch this. It’ll show up around the 0:35 mark.
This one is for the hipster Lego nerds, who are too cool to wear a traditional “Lego” logo on their shirt… that, or they want to make a statement. Either way, the pop-culture value of this design is beyond dispute. Do you love Lego unabashedly? This shirt is for you.
For obvious reasons, this one is close to my heart. If you are a DorkDad yourself, or if you have a DorkDad in your life, it’s something to be proud of. As with all the other shirts, this one comes in a hoodie AND a performance tee option, so dad can strut his stuff whether you’re mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, or running that 5K that someday he’s going to get around to.
Of course, if you’re so inclined, you’re welcome to pick up one of the other options as well. These have already reached their mark, will be going to print, and will therefore be generating funds for Oren and his family.
Again, thank you so much for your generosity and your patience.