Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Best of The Single Father's Guide Original Memes: Volume II

So, when I was in New Orleans, I asked my beautiful, 17 year old daughter if she'd seen any of my original memes on my blog. She thought that question was so funny, she insisted on taking a picture of me and Snapchatting it. Apparently, it was a popular post because it got a lot of "Likes."

Anyway, here is Volume II of "The Single Father's Guide Original Memes." (I don't think any of these were included in Volume I, but I didn't check.)


* * *


If I were to give relationship advice, I would definitely include this:





No, I'm not divorced, but I have a lot of friends who are. An ex-wife who understands the value of a father as a role model in their children's lives is wise, and if nothing else, considerate:





"I fucked the kids' gym teacher. I think we should seek some professional help."

[Sigh.]





Change the way you look at the world and change the world. (That's a great idea for a meme.)





If you don't have room for the baggage, don't launch the boat.
(There's another one.)





It's no mean feat to keep the home fires burning when you're out slaying dragons. Still, you need to find a way:





This is a pet peeve. I am in no way a "mother." While I believe mothers are extremely important for a child's development, I am not and can never be one. I am a father who takes his responsibilities seriously and, as a result of some  unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, raised his children on his own.





I enjoy social media. Still, one sometimes has to take the opinions of others with a grain of salt. Often, the grain of salt is more valuable than those other's opinions.




Monday, August 7, 2017

I Confess to the Unanticipated Benefits of Playing Pokemon Go

One of my prize gym defenders, a
 3,000+ Snorlax.
So, I have a confession to make.

I play Pokemon Go.

Yeah, I know. Some of you are sniggering. Whatever. Snigger until your face hurts, but here’s the story.

Last year when Niantic introduced Pokemon Go in the beginning of July, The Favorite Son and the Second Beautiful Daughter started to take walks together. My second and third children had generally gotten along well together, but really didn’t interact like that very often. In other words, the two of them didn't just go out and take a walk with one another.

The first few times they went out, I simply raised an eyebrow and didn’t say anything. Finally, I asked, “Why are you two taking so many walks.”

They answered, “Pokemon Go.”

Not to miss out on the Pokemon Go bandwagon, I downloaded the free app and started to play, too. My daughter quit after a few weeks, but my son and I played for most of the rest of the summer. Eventually, my son’s interest waned, but I discovered the walking component of the game, which is simply walking specific distances to hatch eggs containing Pokemon, fit into my exercise routine. Walking and hiking are a significant part of my lifestyle and Pokemon Go is another encouragement to walk and, I think, walk more than I used to.

Pokemon Go isn’t the only reason, but my Health Tracker app tells me that my average daily distance walked is 3.6 miles in the last month and 2.9 miles per day during the last year. Even though I don’t believe Pokemon Go is the only reason, my health is great (knock wood), and I feel great.

John, Jen, and Jen's first Moltres.
John and Jen are a "mixed" Pokemon couple: she's
a member of Team Valor, while he's Instinct.
During the autumn, winter, and spring, I regularly played while walking, but I played with a former romantic partner sometimes, too. In fact, I've encountered several couples at Pokemon raids or, like me, taking walks and catching 'Mon at the same time. At least a couple of my ex-fiance's children played, although, frankly, I’m not sure she would have played if I hadn’t. In any case, Pokemon Go was a fun and low-key way to spend time together a few times a week.


The Favorite Son, Master Pokemon Go Trainer,
If you're a regular reader of "The Single Father's Guide Blog," then you already know that The Favorite Son and I already share a mutual interest in baseball - specifically the St. Louis Cardinals, hunting, and Mike Tyson Mysteries, among a few other things. I've coached his Little League teams since he played tee-ball. Still, finding another, mutual interest is a huge benefit for a father to have another strategy to communicate with his teenage son.

You’ll have to excuse me. As I write, The Favorite Son, who is sitting across the table from me at Tuscan Café, is goading me to join him in a raid battle down the street. The raid boss is an Articuna and he doesn’t have one yet.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Moxy Hotel by J.W. Marriott is a Hundo



The Moxy in NOLA.
When I made hotel reservations for our recent trip to New Orleans for my daughter’s freshman orientation, I called the Marriott toll-free number, considering I participate in Marriott Rewards. My first choice hotel didn’t have the room type I preferred, so the agent suggested a nearby property known as Moxy, with which I wasn’t familiar. The agent, however, suggested that it was “different” and, after asking a little bit about my trip, said that she thought Katie and I would enjoy it.

Different was an understatement.

From the airport, we Ubered (yes, I used Uber as a verb) to Moxy. As we entered the unambiguously unusual exterior that wrapped around a block corner, we were greeted with an equally distinct interior. Rather than seeing a lobby, Katie and I saw what looked like a bar that had an elevator bank on one end.

Not seeing a front desk agent or even a front desk, I walked over to the barmaid and asked, “Where’s the lobby.”

The front desk at The Moxy.

The youngish woman answered, “Right here,” as she looked down at one of two laptop computers dust down from the beer taps.

After taking my credit card and giving the two of us our key card, the barmaid/front desk agent said, “You get a free drink with check-in.”

I thought, “Huh?” I said, “Well, my travel partner is only 17, but I’ll have one.”

She offered me the house special, “The Moxy,” which, apparently, has to be the only free cocktail they could offer. After the barmaid described the contents, I decided it was too sweet for my taste. I made a much simpler order, which I was happy to charge to the room.

Cool room, huh?
The target market for The Moxy Hotel is absolutely Generation Y and Millennials, but there is a lot for a more seasoned traveler to appreciate, as well. A distinctly minimalist décor, the elevators and hallways feature mirrors and modern art reproductions. The rooms are spaciously and feature Pergo faux hardwood floors, hanger hooks spanning an entire wall, wood and leather hangers, a deep, wire, bucket chair, and reasonably comfortable beds.

My only concern is the size and amenities in the exercise room. At least in The Moxy in New Orleans, the small room only includes two treadmills, one bicycle, and a decent array of free weight. Any more than three is a crowd.

Notwithstanding that relatively minor criticism, The Moxy price is right. Recently, I checked the room cost. With a month’s notice, the lowest rate for a room with one queen bed for a weekend with a Saturday stay is just $82 plus tax in New Orleans. It’s tough to beat that price in a metropolitan area.

Overall, including price, location, and customer service, The Moxy and Marriott get a five-star rating from Yours Truly.

Oh, by the way, "Hundo" is the Millennial word for fantastic.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Chivalry Isn't Dead, But It May Be Unrecognizable

Zafirian single father, Zorn, and Son of Zorn is, for all intents and
purposes, the extent of my interest in television.
A while back, I posted an Elite Daily article on The Single Father's Guide to Life, Cooking and Baseball Facebook Page written by John Picciuto, “Why Chivalry Is Dead, From A Man’s Perspective.” In the article, Picciuto laments, “. . . it’s pretty obvious that chivalry is completely dead.” He continues, “It’s all about hooking up, grabbing a drink and getting down. I think I’m the only single guy I know that actually takes a girl out to a restaurant on a first date.”

Well, John, there may actually be two of us.

So, look, I’m no choirboy. Never pretended to be. If I’m attracted to a woman and if she wants to be intimate after a first date, I’ve been known to oblige. (See, "First Date Sex and The Single Father.") Regardless, I do actually start out with a real date, you know, coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner, conversation, gentlemanly behavior, and such. On the other hand, if I believe there is a chance for an authentic connection and a long-term, committed relationship, then I tend not to sleep with a woman on the first date. Why? Well, frankly, I’m not worried about physical intimacy in the short-run. For me, it’s not all about “closing the deal.” When I am genuinely attracted to a woman emotionally, intellectually, and physically, (which doesn’t happen very often), I want to give that initial connection a chance to evolve. I’ve noticed that having sex on the first date isn’t always conducive to creating intimacy in other areas of a relationship.


Follow me on Twitter: @MattFieldAuthor


Some time ago, I connected a beautiful, intelligent woman through one of the more exclusive on-line match-making site. Let’s call the woman, "Fia." (That’s not her name, by the way.) Fia and I talked on the phone and it became clear that the two of us shared a mutual attraction. It turned out Fia was (is) Ivy League educated and a working actor. 

SAG actor and handyman,
Robert Vincent Smith, who
actually is a pretty big deal.
It’s not terribly unusual to meet actors from time to time given the fact that I live about 40 miles from Manhattan. Heck, I’ve seen my friend, handyman, and Screen Actors Guild member, Robert Smith, on Law & Order and in small role in a feature film from time to time. In other words, I’ve known a few actors and, for the most part, it’s not a big deal.

After talking on the phone several times with Fia during a period of couple of weeks, the stars and our schedules aligned. The two of us planned to meet at a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.

Given that I’m the only one of my close circle who isn’t married, I occasionally talk about the women I date with my friends who vicariously enjoy the stories. I mentioned to a friend, Joe, (that is his real name), who lives in Chicago that I had met a woman, Fia, and that she and I planned to have dinner. Joe asked with some incredulity, “Don’t tell me you mean Fia _______ who plays ________ on (television show)?” I answered, “Well, yes, that’s Fia’s last name, but I had no idea she was on (television show).” Frankly, other than a few shows that includes animated series The Simpsons and Son of Zorn, Zach Galifinakis' Baskets, and now Brockmire, I don’t watch a lot of television. I had never seen Fia on the big or small screen, but turned out that Fia had had a regular gig on a somewhat popular, long-running television series. The show had very recently been cancelled, but Joe had apparently been a fan.

Fia was waiting at the Saturday night-crowded restaurant bar. A more accurate description may have been that Fia was hiding at the crowded restaurant bar. I’d walked through the bar from end to end, but didn’t see her. Since there wasn’t a spot at the bar, I decided to walk back to the door in case she hadn’t yet arrived. I’d hoped she hadn’t stood me up or, worse, saw me from her spot and decided not to come out of hiding. Then, suddenly, Fia caught me at the front door just before I walked back outside. Apparently, I’d passed the first test. And, wow, so had Fia. She was more attractive than her dating profile pictures had suggested.

The two of us were seated at a table on the second floor, made small talk, and ordered. Fia wore a form fitting, ankle length summer dress with spaghetti straps and open heels and, I was fairly certain, nothing else. The best word I can imagine to describe her, from her deep, dark eyes to the bottom of her long, lovely legs, was “graceful.”

Fia ordered a small steak and vegetables, which she explained in spite of the low carbohydrates, were more calories than she’d normally eat in three days. Suddenly, next to us, a gentleman at a table of six men asked Fia if he could have his picture taken with her. It turned out that the table of six were extremely entertaining gay men who were celebrating a birthday and at least a couple of them were among Fia’s devoted fans.

Fia and I spend the rest of dinner talking and laughing together with our new friends. I even bought a drink for the birthday boy, with whom I'm still a (Facebook) friend. A bystander might have thought I’d found the cure for cancer by the guy’s extravagant but unpretentious appreciation. After dinner, Fia asked me if I’d drive her to her apartment Uptown. Apparently, I passed the second test.

We walked hand-in-hand the couple of blocks from the restaurant to the lot where I parked my car. I opened the car door as Fia elegantly slid the hem of her dress to her knees, revealing just a little of her toned, honey-colored legs, while sliding into the passenger seat. When we reached her apartment located on a tree-lined city street, I parked and the two of us spend the next twenty minutes or so in a somewhat, (ahem), passionate embrace. In other words, we snogged like teenagers.

It was pretty clear that Fia wanted more and, let me tell you, I was torn. I wanted more, too, but I wanted more than more. I really liked Fia and thought she and I just might have potential for something meaningful. There was clearly a mutual physical attraction. Although we'd only spent two or three hours together, it appeared we also got along in other ways, as well. I wanted her to know that I wanted her. I wanted her in a way that would include not just sex, but something that would include intimacy on all levels and for more than just a night. I walked Fia to the door and, with a plan to see one another again and after recognizing a bewildered look on her face, watched her walk into her building.

Sometimes, a guy wants more than
a perfect stranger.
Our schedules prevented us from connecting at any time sooner than two weeks. Once again, I found myself on the tree-lined street in front of her building, this time to see one of my favorite, small venue musicians at one of my favorite small venues. We had dinner on the veranda of a restaurant closer to my home before we continued to the concert.

Our seats were near enough to the stage that, after the encore, I thanked the performer for a great show and he nodded to me and replied genuinely, "Thanks." It was clear after the curtain closed, though, the magic between Fia and me was gone. I didn’t press for anything more after Fia made a not-so-veiled reference to “men who lack confidence.” Apparently, Fia confused chivalry and respect with timidity. I have to assume she hadn’t experienced many instances of a man who postpones gratification or just wasn’t familiar with a gentleman when she met one.


When I saw my friend Joe and some other of my best friends a few weeks later in Chicago and told them the story about Fia and I was roundly chastised for not, well, closing the deal. I don't know. Had I been intimate with Fia that first night, she likely have always been "a perfect stranger" to me anyway. Besides I think I'm in the "been-there-done that" category in terms of putting a notch on my bedpost. Frankly, I want something more substantial and I'd still rather make my best effort to have a loving, committed partner in lieu of a fleeting tryst.

Chivalry may not be dead, as John Picciuto suggests in his Elite Daily article, but it is apparently rare enough that some women, even an intelligent and educated woman, don’t recognize it when they see it.

So, it goes.

I can’t say that I haven’t looked Fia up on IMDB.com. She's had another recurring role in a new television series. Not surprisingly, I haven’t watched the show, but I hope she’s breaking one of those long, beautiful, graceful legs. (Sigh.)


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

There Are a Lot of Ways to Steal a Base

If you're a regular reader of The Single Father's Guide and have been paying attention, you know that I've coached Little League Baseball for more than ten seasons including Fall Ball and a year as a player/manager when I was 16 years old, which was a lot of fun and quite a learning experience.

Little League Tee-Ballers, The Express in 2009.

Anyway, the mantra I've used with my young players, which has evolved over time and which I send to parents at the beginning of each season, includes:

1. Respect the game. Respect parents, coaches, and umpires. Coaches are volunteers and umpires are, typically, teenagers or young adults. Don't argue calls.

2. Love the game. Hustle on and off the field. Run, don't walk, to first base on a "ball four" call. Have fun.

3. Pick-up teammates. Everyone makes mistakes. Stay positive with teammates after either a great play or an error.

4. Hit the cut-off man. This is a new one for me and not a euphemism. Reinforce getting the ball to the cut-off to save bases and get more outs during the game.
 
In the context of  "Love the game," I coach players to sprint to first base, a la Pete Rose, after a walk or a dropped third strike. If the catcher takes his time to pick up the ball or isn't paying attention, then, as the first base coach, I send the runner to steal second base even before the next pitch is thrown. My teams have grabbed quite a few extra bases by loving the game, hustling, and paying attention.

St. Louis Cardinals' relief pitcher Al Hrabosky.
Once, the father of a player on another team whose son I'd coached years earlier grabbed my ear and told me that he didn't think that teaching kids to steal second base after a walk or a dropped third strike was good "baseball fundamentals" because those sort of things weren't done at higher levels of baseball. In fact, he was more than a little indignant. My team had probably stolen a few too many bases against his son's team that day. I disagreed and cited an instance that I recalled in the '70's when Al Hrabosky was doing his "Mad Hungarian Psyche" between pitches and wasn't paying attention to the players on base. During Hrabosky's "show," the opposing team's runners advanced.

The guy didn't buy it, rolled his eyes, and reinforced his disapproval. I continued to coach the game and my players to take advantage of the opportunities that the game provided. I wish I could have pulled out my phone and showed him this video.


 Jose Bautista hustling to second base.

Respect the game. Love the game. Pick up your teammates. Hit the cut-off man. Of course, take advantage of the opportunities that the game gives you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Toddler Potty Training Urinal for Boys (Obviously)

Cool idea: potty training urinals for boys.



I sure wish I knew about these things when The Favorite Son was a toddler.



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Advice for Parents Who Have College-Bound Kids


"The Eye" on plane back home from Tulane University Orientation.
Literally, as I type, I’m on the plane back from New Orleans to New York after college orientation with The Second Beautiful Daughter, Katie. This isn’t my first trip to the circus. Two years ago, I went through the same process of undergraduate college selection, orientation, and move-in with Jordan, also known as The First Beautiful Daughter. So, I’ve learned a thing or two about this whole college thing.

How far back should I go with this?

The Favorite Son at Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Establish Expectations Early: As soon as your kids can listen, talk, and understand, use the word, “when,” rather than the word, “if,” when you discuss the future. It’s fun for both parents and children to talk about the possibilities the future holds. Relative to guiding your children on a path that will yield the best chance for personal and professional success, use optimistic, forward-thinking phrases like, “When you start college . . . ,” “When you choose a graduate school . . . ,” and “When you’re older, do you think you’d prefer to build things or help others?” By doing so, you create the vision of a future that includes continuing education and meaningful ends in the minds of your children. This was so important to me, it was the theme of a children's book I wrote and published in 2007, The Three Pigs, Business School, and Wolfe Hash Stew

Setting college expectations early:
The Three Pigs, Business School, and Wolfe Hash Stew

University of Missouri and #1.
Start Planning for Tuition Early: It's never too early to start planning for college tuition and fees. Roth IRA's and 529 (b) College Savings Plans are popular options, although nothing beats the advice from a certified financial planner (CFP) when it comes to saving money for future needs. Set up a plan that works for you and make regular contributions. It's also not a bad idea to involve grandparents, if they're able, and your own children when they're old enough to have a part-time job.

Visit the Schools Your Child(ren) Want to Visit: I saw it when I was an undergraduate myself and I see it now with the children of my friends and family. If a young adult isn’t comfortable and happy on a college campus, he or she is unlikely to be successful. Visit large public universities and small public universities. Visit urban campuses and large land-grant universities. Spend time at both private and public schools. In the context of your financial means, let your child do his or her research and go to the school of his or her choice.

Financial Aid: Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible. Encourage your child apply for every local, national, and institution scholarship he or she can while providing guidance as needed. There are scores, if not hundreds, of scholarships sponsored by local Rotaries, Lions Clubs, other clubs, businesses, and associations, as well as scholarships sponsored by national organizations and universities based on need, circumstances, interest, aptitude, and heritage. Take advantage of every opportunity. (Hint: Make sure your child files his or her tax return when they turn 16 years of age. It makes completing the FAFSA and the school financial aid applications much easier.)

Participate in New Student Orientation: Sign-up and participate in new student days and orientation at the school. It will both give your child an opportunity to meet other students, start to build relationships, and create an additional familiarity with the campus, classrooms, and activities. Such occasions will also provide you, as the parent, context for your child if he or she needs some type of support along the way.


Have “Those” Conversations: Your high school senior is suddenly a college freshman. The structure you provided as a parent in your home and community won’t travel with your child, but the values you taught (and teach) will. Spend some time and discuss with your undergrad new and unique situations in which he or she find himself/herself, like:

1.   Your expectations about alcohol and drug use;
2.   The reason it’s important never to accept a drink from anyone unless you saw the person make or open it;
3.   The definition of the word, “consent,” as it refers to sexual intimacy;
4.   The reason to always travel, on campus or in the town or city, in groups – the bigger the better;
5.   A discussion about your suggestions for money and budgeting;
6.   The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which is your undergrad student’s permissions for you, parents, to access your child’s federally protect personal and academic information.

The Beautiful Daughters on University of Missouri 2015 Move-In Day.

University Contact Numbers: On your smartphone, create a contact for the school your child attends including phone numbers and email address for emergency, police, financial aid, student housing, registrar, student health center, guidance, and so forth. So, if you need to contact one of the school departments to support your child, whether a routine matter or a high-priority issue, you’ll have all the numbers at your fingertips. Then, share that contact card via text so your student has all of the same information.

Always nice when a friend helps.
Move-In Day: If your child chooses a school that is outside of a reasonable driving distance, I strongly encourage parents and students to buy much of the dorm room supplies at home and then ship those items to the school. In the case of my first daughter, she chose the University of Missouri (M – I - Z!) and we have family nearby. So, we shipped to my parents’ house. In the case of my second daughter, Tulane University has a system to ship packages directly to the campus using a student code number. Either system is preferable to checking boxes on a plane, which is probably as costly as shipping and quite a bit more inconvenient, or, at least for me, shopping for sheets, pillows, decorations, etc., in the college town. (I hate to shop.) Some colleges and universities have created relationships with special national retailers to be able to either order on-line or outlets close to you home and then ship directly to your child at school. Such programs tend to offer special services and discounts.
                                                                                            
Give the Gift of Your Experience and Knowledge: You’ve been a loving, caring mentor for your child for about 18 years. Why stop now? Using whatever method you have at your disposal to connect with your young adult, continue to provide the guidance and expectations you have. Talk about the importance of getting involved in social organizations, from intramural sports to chorus to student government to Greek life to common interest groups, and building a social and support network. Suggest the reasons that a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, can improve the college experience for your child.

Tiger.

Most of all, let your child know that it is all right to enjoy the next few years of learning. College is a time for a young adult to create a better understanding of a professional specialty, an identity, other people, and the world. Let them know it’s okay to have fun while doing it.

See what I just did there?