Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Lucy Cliché, Hornswoggling, Assholes, and Good Men

I hate being a cliché, but I remembered one that had something to do with some decent, cow-eyed guy getting hornswaggled by a sexy, manipulative, gold-digging divorcee. The whole thing reminded me of this great song by Eric Clapton, Watch Out for Lucy.

"Excuse me, Lucy. Darlin', don't you use me.
I don't want to end up in jail."
- Watch Out For Lucy by Eric Clapton

Yes, I’ve dated a few divorced ladies. No, I don’t think I’ve been hornswoggled by any of them. Still, I wondered whether I was the mark for one of these “Lucy’s” and a cliché to boot.

The story that is widely circulated is that the phrase was first spoken by the English
 evangelical preacher and martyr, John Bradford (circa 1510–1555). He is said to
have uttered the variant of the expression - "There but for the grace of God,
goes John Bradford", when seeing criminals being led to the scaffold.
(Google Search: There but for the grace of God. 10/10/17)
So, I decided to do a little research and Googled, “nice guy falling for divorcee cliché.” I didn’t find much about the “Lucy Cliché,” I was surprised see the search results. Almost exclusively, the results included information and advice for women seeking advice about how to date good men. Women wanted to learn how to date a nice guy because, you know, they didn’t know how to behave with a nice guy.

So, I was off the whole Lucy Cliché and delved into this new vein of information.

Apparently, some gals have to learn how to treat a guy who doesn't treat them like garbage. Lauren Evans asks, “How does one treat the nice guy? The nice guy that texts you the morning after the first date? The nice guy that stays round to make out til 3 in the morning?[i]” In The Good Men Project’s 5 Things I Had to Learn In Order to Love My Nice Guy, Joanna Schroeder offers women who are dating a good man advice “You need to stop being a jerk, even when you’re in a bad mood.[ii]” Schroeder continues, “If you’ve lived in chaos most of your life, or if you’ve had abuse or a lot of drama in past relationships, you’re probably going to be really uncomfortable with the sense of ease that comes from being in a healthy relationship with a nice guy.[iii]” 

Nice guys may finish last only
because they put their women first.

So, look. As a younger man, I was quite a bit more reckless than I am now. Sure, there have probably been a few activities listed in the penal code, I’m sure, which, had I been at the wrong place at the wrong time, well, “There, but by the grace of God, go I.” I'm no angel, but was I a "bad boy?" I don't know. Never have I maliciously or purposely injured anyone except in the cases when I had to defend myself, my family, or someone who wasn’t able to defend himself or herself. However, if the definition of a good man today world is a man who has worked diligently for his family, respects others, and takes responsibility for his actions, well, of that I am and many of my single father readers are guilty. I’ve never believed a guy has to be an asshole to be an alpha male.

Schroeder observes her audience, women who date nice guys, needs the advice to refrain from “being a jerk” and may “be really uncomfortable with a sense the sense of ease” that results from dating a good man. That’s mind-boggling to me.

How have so many women become so bitterly jaded that they need to be told to be a decent human being? Well, yes, some have and, yes, some men are assholes.

I think woman who is attracted to a “bad boy” mistakenly sees him as an alpha male when, in fact, he’s just an asshole. She may eventually realize he is an asshole, but believes she can change him. Of course, she can’t. She marries him and, then, is mystified when he doesn’t mature, treats her badly or, perhaps, even physically or psychologically abuses her. A decade or two later, the woman has a bunch of little asshole kids who sustain the cycle of asshole men and wonders, “Why all men are assholes?”

Is having married or having a relationship with an asshole justification for treating a good man, a nice guy, like garbage? Um, no. As Joanna Schroeder advises, “Because you’re an adult now, and you have control over your choices.[iv]

Here, my dear lady readers who don't know how to treat decent people decently, is a little advice from me. If you find a man who is straight-up crazy about you, who lets you know that you’re the first person he thinks of in the morning and the last person he thinks of before he goes to bed, who respects you, loves you for your quirks and not in spite of them, who makes you squirm with excitement when you’re with him, who invests his time in you, who wants time from you, who listens to you and talks with you, and who’d not only bury the body, but also give you an alibi for the crime, leave him alone. If you don’t know how to love, respect, and honor the good man he is, regardless of the reason, just leave him alone.

For the good men out there, don't be hornswoggled. Accept nothing less.

[i] “This Is What Happens When You Accept Love From A Nice Guy. Catalog. Lauren Evans. March 5, 2016.
[ii] “5 Things I Had to Learn In Order to Love My Nice Guy.” Joanna Schroeder. The Good Men Project. November 30, 2014.
[iv] “5 Things I Had to Learn In Order to Love My Nice Guy.” Joanna Schroeder. The Good Men Project. November 30, 2014.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Calling-Out Bad Single Father Behavior (LANGUAGE WARNING)

Single fathers, I’ve got you’re back. I really do. When I see or hear about an ex-wife who is preventing you from seeing your children, I support you any way I can. If you have questions about “getting back out there” to start dating again after a tumultuous divorce, brother, I’m your wingman. Need suggestions for a healthy meal or someone to listen to a parenting issue, I'm with you.

It's okay to seek happiness, single dads,
but not at the expense of your kids.
However, when one of you dumb sons-of-bitches does something so fucking stupid that it damages one of your children and makes the rest of us responsible single fathers look bad, well, you can bet your ass I’m going to call you on it.

So, I know a single father who, well, contributed significantly to the end of his marriage. While his now ex-wife was pregnant with the couple’s second child, she was involved in a life-threatening accident. What was this guy doing when she had the accident and when she was in the hospital? Well, he was fucking some other woman. Class act, huh?

The things that happen between a man and a woman prior to the infidelity, are the business of that man and woman and not mine. Maybe, the guy’s wife was a horrible person. Maybe, she was a manipulative, narcissistic, unsupportive, psychopathic witch of a partner. Not my business. However, “banging the babysitter” is not the way a gentleman handles ending a relationship with the pregnant mother of his children while she lay in a hospital bed.

Recently, he bought a house where his two children, now teenagers, would stay during the times the shared custody agreement provided for it. His son was so excited about his new room that he picked a paint color and rolled the paint on the walls himself.

Subsequently, during the last few months, in fact, our single father brother began a relationship with a woman who was very freshly separated and who has two children. Foolishly, in my humble opinion, our subject asked his new girlfriend to move in to his house. Due to limited space and to accommodate his new girlfriend and her children, he gave one of her children his own son’s room. Now, when he has visitation with his children, his kids sleep on the sofa while his girlfriend’s children sleep in the bedrooms.

Dude. What? The. Fuck.

Your behavior, single dad, has a direct impact on your child's behavior.
Not surprisingly, our single father brother’s children are angry at him for giving their rooms to his girlfriend's kids. His daughter will no longer talk to him. The other child still wants to have a relationship with his father, but has begun act out in a number of unproductive and potentially dangerous ways including drug use and behavioral issues at school. Is the drug use and behavior at school directly related to his dad's girlfriend's family moving in to his dad's house? Who the hell knows. I'd bet good money, though, it's related.

Considering there are more than two million single fathers and the number of page views of the blog is only a few thousand each month, it’s unlikely that this guy will ever see this post. However, for those who are readers, put your kids first. It’s fine if you want to spend time with your buddies. It’s okay of you want to enjoy the company of a lovely lady. For most of us, we have to work for the money we need to pay the bills. Heck, you may even want to remarry and your partner may have children. (I almost did.)

Your children may not always understand the reasons you do the things you do to be the best parent you can be. Sometimes, you will make a mistake. That's all right. Make time for them. Let them know by your actions and your words that your children are the reason you make the decisions you make. However, don't be a douche-hole. Regardless of what you do to keep yourself physically and emotionally healthy, do those things while keeping your children the priority. Literally.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Want a Healthier Life? Turn OFF Television

Strong association: food and television.
Interesting observation I’ve recently made after the start of the kids' new school year.

I have made a point not to have the television on during the week, even after The Favorite Son (TFS) has gone to bed. (To be honest, there are a few exceptions like October baseball.) For my part, I’ve noticed that three things have happened. First, I go to sleep earlier, wake up earlier, and am better rested. Second, I’m not hungry later after dinner, so I don’t eat. Finally, I’d often have an adult beverage while noshing and watching game or a show.

Screen time, whether phone, computer, other handheld device, gaming system, or television, has always been an item of contention for me with TFS. While I have occasionally tested permitting TFS some screen time in the past, I’ve come to the conclusion screen time and homework, home responsibilities, and participation in family activities are almost completely mutually exclusive.

TFS has not only been more focused on completing his homework, but he is also finding other activities to occupy his time. He’s also getting more sleep, which makes both his life and my life easier.

Maybe it’s been the repetitive advertising dating back more than five decades of young, healthy, bright-eyed actors at the drive-in eating popcorn and drinking Coca-Cola or families parked in front of the television sitting behind TV trays and TV dinners, but screen time is very much associated with eating. Pavlov’s dog speaking, take away the association and the undesirable behavior is no longer top-of-mind.

Eating and watching is sooooooo much fun.

For me, not watching television on weekdays has begun to show some tangible benefits. In addition to getting better rest, I take in fewer (empty) calories and, often, find activities that burn a few. Recently, I undertook a somewhat involved and physically demanding repair project at my house when I would have otherwise eating tortilla chips and salsa and sipping a Glenlivet on the rocks.

Yeah, chips, salsa, and single malt scotch is how I roll, although not quite as often now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some push-back from TFS. He wants to watch television or have other screen time. Still, the resistance from TFS hasn’t been too bad. Yes, he asks. I just suggest other activities. Then, TFS often goes outside to shoot hoops, into the back yard and throws a baseball at the rebound net and shags the ground balls, or to his room to sort his sports cards.

TFS: dated, but relevant.

There’s always the weekend when TFS and I can watch the shows he’s recorded like The Walking Dead. Of course, considering the state of University of Missouri football, it isn't easy to get too excited about Tigers' kick-off on Saturday afternoon. We're not fair-weather fans, though. We still watch.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Disrespect? Win the Battle, Lose the War

Okay. My tongue is bleeding because I’ve been biting so hard.

I don’t know Donald Trump. I can’t tell you how he thinks. More often t than not, though, I understand the what the result of his actions might be.

Buffalo Bills players protesting the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
As Trump continues to speak directly with his constituency through social media, his supporters get an unfiltered message. Clearly, the President doesn't care for the media filter to deliver his position. When he speaks directly to voters who turn out to hear his speeches, he knows exactly the response they hope to achieve. So, when President Trump referred to NFL athletes who kneel during the National Anthem as “sons of bitches,” there's little doubt that he understood the reaction he'd affect. For folks who aren’t familiar with American history, that’s powerful imagery for some players.

I suspect that President Trump isn’t terribly fond of some NFL owners.

A recent Experian Simmons study shows that this is true demographically. Of people who identified themselves as part of the NFL fan base 83 percent were white, 64 percent were male, 51 percent were 45 years or older, only 32 percent made less than $60,000 a year, and, to finish the point, registered Republicans were 21 percent more likely to be NFL fans than registered Democrats. Another factoid: NFL fans were 59 percent more likely than the average American to have played golf in the last year.[i]

By making this and other statements relating to the behavior of some players, Mr. Trump is effectively galvanizing those players’ solidarity. It’s more than a little bit likely that Team Trump understood how his comments would be taken. More players would kneel during the National Anthem and rhetoric would compound. Likely, some of the more, well, inexperienced players would likely make an outrageous or unreasonable statement, which would, in turn, dampen the ardor of the largest among NFL demographics. A less enthusiastic fan base spends less money on tickets, broadcast products, and gear. Considering the NFL’s total annual revenue is $13.3 billion,[ii] a decrease in NFL product sales to the largest market, well, puts a big dent in owners’ asset values.

Rams and 49ers kick-off to an empty stadium.

Players who take the hook are not only caught, but they are also biting on what is so obviously isn’t even live bait.

Saints fans burn gear after players' protest.
Like I’ve already mentioned, I don’t know how Mr. Trump thinks or the nature of his end game. Is it actually something as simple as evening the score with one or more NFL owners who Mr. Trump doesn’t care for, or is the President of the United States looking downfield for more? Does he want to use his influence to force support from NFL team owners to his own ends through unprecedented political hard ball. Is Trump fan the flame of an already burning issue to rally his base for the 2020 campaign? Is it something else entirely?

One thing is certain; many of the NLF players are, well, playing into the President’s hand. Frankly, it's not a matter of whether they can. It's a matter of whether they should. Personally, I think every NFL player should stand for the two and a half minutes while a bright-eyed young American sings the Star-Spangled Banner. For those who continue to show what a majority of Americans believe is disrespect for our country and for the women and men who have died to defend it, protesters may win a battle, but lose the war.

As football players, they should readily comprehend that.

[i] “NFL: Last sports bastion of white, male conservatives.” The Great Debate. www.blogs.reuters.com. Neil Gabler. March 24, 2014.

[ii] “Thanks To Roger Goodell, NFL Revenues Projected To Surpass $13 Billion In 2016.” Forbes Magazine. www.forbes.com. Jason Belzer. February 29, 2016.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Widower Father's Lament

Some of "my people" Including The Favorite Son, me,
"Louis," Rob Rooney, and Rob's Dad
If you’re even a casual reader of The Single Father’s Guide Blog, the next thing I'm about to write will be redundant. For some reason, though, I feel obligated to include it.

And, here it is. Slightly more than one in 20 single fathers is a widower. The number is actually just about 6%. This is the subgroup of single dads to which I belong.

My late wife, Lori, was diagnosed in 2003 with occult metastatic breast cancer when she was six months pregnant with The Favorite Son (TFS). That mother-fucker (the cancer, not TFS) took Lori ten months later, leaving her two Beautiful Daughters, seven and four years old, respectively, and seven-month old TFS without a mother and Yours Truly.

So, I don’t think I wear my emotions on my sleeve or allow one, albeit significant event in the past, define me. I don’t think I write disproportionately to widower single fathers, but I do, admittedly include a post written directly to or about widower single dads.

That said, TFS and I spent a little bit of time in Missouri “with my people,” which is the way a former neighbor, Phyllis Kaminsky, used to refer to them. The trip included a stop at Three River Stadium in Pittsburgh to watch the Cardinals and another stop in Indianapolis at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum. While TFS enjoyed some quality time with his grandparents, I met the Second Beautiful Daughter (SBD) in New Orleans and helped her move into her dorm. Prior to returning to New York, TFS and I made the trip to Columbia, Missouri and had dinner and shopped with the First Beautiful Daughter (FBD), who is a junior at the University of Missouri.
First Beautiful Daughter: KD, now RA.

As I unloaded the contents of my car on Broadway Street in New Orleans, picked up the boxes we’d shipped from the FedEx trailer, and unpacked clothes, supplies, sundries, pictures, mattress pad, sheets, pillow cases, and comforter, I was overwhelmed with the same emotion I felt when I visited her sister a few days later at MIZZOU.

After two years as a Kappa Delta and living in the sorority house during her sophomore year, FBD took a position as a resident assistant (RA). Consistent with her independent and confident personality, FBD has taken responsibility for herself and her success by taking a job that would pay room/board expenses while she finishes her undergraduate degree.

TFS started at a new school. Understandably, TFS was nervous on his first day, but maintained a stiff upper lip. He even giggled about the school uniform; an enthusiastic supporter of the Commander in Chief, TFS joked before he left for school, “I feel like Donald Trump.”

Shh. I'm Batman, but it is The Second Beautiful
Daughter who is Incredi-Girl.
What I felt on those three days with each my incredible, unique, independent young adults can be clustered into two emotions. First, I am incredibly proud of the way each of my three children have become such wonderful people. My first daughter has made a point of establishing her independence and, with Missouri Heritage Scholarship, her RA job, and a work/study job, is doing just that while maintaining a grade point average north of 3.5. The SBD set her sights on her goal of attending Tulane University and she studied, worked with a tutor, and earned nearly a 90% scholarship. My son has always had something to which a lot of people call “intangibles.” Sharp-witted and funny, he’s been a likable leader among his peers. Both figuratively and literally, TFS has always been fearless and “played bigger” than he is.

The Favorite Son: Future Politician?

For all of these reasons and more, I was something more than gratified by the way my children have grown up so far. But, there was something else I felt, as well. Frankly, I was angry and resentful that they couldn’t have also shared these moments with their mother. It just wasn’t (and isn’t) fair to them that when one would look over to the sideline during a game, out into the audience at a school play or an award ceremony, or after school to share a good grade on a quiz or test, that Lori wasn’t there to share it.

No, I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. What possible reason could there be for two little girls, seven and four years old, and a baby boy to have to grow up without a mother’s love? Yeah, I know it isn’t rational to have resentment or anger for something that happened so far out of my control. It’s like resenting the weather. (Ironically, Hurricane Irma and the ocean storm surge is pounding Florida as I write. Maybe, I can blame global warming, too.) Feelings of anger and resentment are a natural process that is clearly out of anyone’s control are irrational, but who ever said emotions have to be rational?

Well, that’s my story. That’s a widower’s lament for his children. There’s no punchline. Maybe, there isn’t even a moral other than, perhaps, life goes on until it doesn’t. Even then, life still goes on and we have to do the best with what we’ve got. With any luck, we do.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

THE FAVORITE SON SAGA: Sleepover Hangover


A beautiful Sunday morning in a small village in New York's Hudson Valley after picking up The Favorite Son from a sleepover at his friend's house. Now, in my car on the ride home.

THE FAVORITE SON: Yeah, we stayed up late playing pool and X-Box. Then, we watched a scary movie. We didn't go to sleep until about 2:30, but I'm not tired. You know, not so tired that I'm cranky or in a bad mood.

ME: Really.

THE FAVORITE SON: See? This is what I'm talking about. You provoke me all the time. That's what makes me mad. You start in on me and then . . . 

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."


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.