Chaos and Control at the Car Lobby Pick-up.

Pressed back into service after years, and I mean years, of being on the bench I found myself back amongst the denizens of the dreaded car lobby pick-up line. A lot has changed since those lazy days of pre-school drop off and elementary school car lobby pick up.

As much as it may be hard to believe the traffic has picked up considerably. I have no science to follow on this, but I imagine parents wanting to keep their kids off the busses full of little covid coughers might have caused the up-tick in kids’ being dropped off and picked up.

The other major changes? Well I’m droppin off and picking up for two now. Those two also go to separate schools so the route has expanded as well. We’ve got one in middle school so that means a cross town hike. The elementary school drop-off I used to make years ago was a milk run. No traffic to speak of, a short mile and a half to travel, and not one traffic light. I was in the tall cotton as they say round here.

Not now man. Now I’m dealing with mall traffic, and endless sea of traffic lights, and my favorite traffic obstacle here in the South, the dastardly four-way stop. Had Sherman invented these in 1864, he may not have had to burn Atlanta to the ground. We’ll just never know. The four-way stop is just a conundrum for Southerners it seems. The methodology of it conflicts with their desire to yield to all other cars at the other three stop signs. And since they are all yielding to each other, you tend to get a bit of a stare down.

That propensity to be nice on the roadways is not a burden that I carry. I subscribe to more of a hit man’s philosophy in those situations, taking my shot when others think it not prudent to do so. That brings on a different kind of stare. Look man, it’s highly likely I’d still be sitting at one if I didn’t just say screw it and go. One thing working in my favor, the cars in the morning jaunt to the schools are all nicer than mine by a lot. Who wants to bust up their nice ride on our old but still sexy Honda van. No one right? So I just go.

I could go on about the traffic for nine more paragraphs but I won’t. What has brought me to the key board this day is the vast difference between the Car Lobby Pick Up at the elementary school and the Lord of the Flies survival of the fittest pick up at middle school.

Woe unto me for ever mocking the iron fisted control of the car lobby pickup lane at elementary school. You can read my blasphemy here if you like Car Lobby Pick Up Lane. Who knew back then I would crave the frantic waving arms with red coned flashlights attached directing the cars, the stern looks of disappointment at a newbies inability to discern the pattern and drive accordingly, or the threat of violence from other parents, (mostly entitled moms) for having the gall to step from your vehicle thus breaking the battle rhythm of the ballet like movement of mini-vans making their pick up.

Oh I tell you now the pick up at middle school has me yearning, yes yearning, for the comfy warmth of the iron curtain dictatorship in the elementary school pick up line.

They are all animals in middle school; unbridled, untamed, uncouth, animals. There is no rhyme, no reason, no decorum, and no shrill lunch lady on the side hustle as the Fuhrer of the car lobby waving her flashlight as if it was Darth Vader’s light saber. There is no car lobby at all man! It’s just naked, open, aggression to the doors. You can even get out of your vehicle and no one cares. Anarchy, bald anarchy.

The arrows and parking lines are there only to be mocked and ignored. Driving against the arrows seems more like a right of passage. Try to drive with the flow and you’re in for all manner of gestures from the more veteran knuckle draggers. None of the gestures are compliments as far as I can tell.

It’s been a week of weeks I will say that much. It was not like riding a bike. It was like waking from a coma to find horse and buggy driven by a friendly traveler replaced by a BMW piloted by an angry entitled mom who will either call you a Trumper as she puts on her fourth mask and cuts you off, or flip you off and call you a snowflake as she hurls a burning mask at your car…. and cuts you off.

The laughter from my oldest in the back seat may be the only saving grace of that experience. Even though he’s laughing at me, that’s a far cry from the mood of virtual school all last year. The fact there’s a Chik-fil-a on our homeward leg helps too

Middle school pick up man, you got to want it.

Corona Hair: Salon Daze

Well I did it. Finally cut off my Corona hair. Man it got long. And curly. And unmanageable. Even the best products on the market were no match. It had gone well past the stage of being a novelty and now a nuisance. But I felt a little committed or invested to see how far I could take it; how long it could get.

Now let me say right off, there was some vanity involved here. Several people said they liked it and thought my burgeoning Mr Kotter hairdo looked good.  I would suggest those people go for MRIs as soon as possible. Young people, see the Kotter pic for reference, or you know, get on the google.


My Patron Saint

So yeah man, I’m not immune to vanity. Not to mention I’ll be 53 in a couple of months. I was intrigued and am quietly pleased that my hair grew that much at my age. So part of me also wanted to see if it would just keep on going. And surprisingly it did.

For context and comparison to the Gabe Kaplan pic over there, peep the pic that earned me the Mr. Kotter nickname from my wife. It’s a little grainy like a bigfoot sighting, but you can clearly see the hair helmet taking shape.

This shot was not long before I left for basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.



Kotter hair, don’t care.

It just occurred to me I had the stash going as well.  It was the style man, what are you gonna do. A few short years after this picture, after having my head shaved and maintaining a very close cropped haircut, I had my first salon experience.

Needing a haircut bad before I reported for work, I was forced to go to a salon. And at the time I say forced because up until that moment I went to barbers only. In my mind salons were for girls. I was a red blooded fighting man. (In total honesty the Air Force did very little fighting in those days, unless you count the fighting for a good parking space at the BX.)

I grew up with Joe the Barber. Joe Mangiello cut my hair from when i was a little kid until I was an adult.  He cut my father’s hair. That’s where we got our haircut, at Joe the Barber’s. That’s it. There was never talk of a salon.

When Joe the Barber retired we found another dude to cut our hair.  A barber. But there I was, 23 years old and walking into a salon in the mall because I had no choice.  I needed to have my haircut.  It was an eye opener on several levels.

Did you know they wash your hair in those joints?  Once I got over resting my head in that weird sink, it became a … well i’m just gonna say it.  A religious experience would possibly be an understatement. I had no idea.

Now this was 30 plus years ago so I feel comfortable saying the following. The woman washing my hair was stunning to say the least. And she was washing my hair so I had that going for me.

She only had to squirt me in the face with that hose thing one time, as I was falling asleep. It was like massage therapy. Once that warm water hit my head I was light out. Almost. A deft shot from the little water gun rinser thing had me wide awake; and provided her a good laugh. Salons, as it turns out, are just win/win scenarios.

Who knew?

She sat me up immediately remarking that my hair was as healthy as she had seen and predicted I would die with a full head of hair. Now that prediction could have easily come true had I gotten smoked by a dump truck on the way home from that haircut, but I got what she meant.

She also said that my hair would not only keep growing it would take on the characteristics of a steel wool pad as I approached 60.  Well that didn’t seem very positive. But I was still basking in the glow of my hair washing so I didn’t really care.

Well hair stylist lady, if you’re reading this, you were right on the money. My hair is still growing strong at the age of almost 53. And because of that and the current pandemic it’s way down the back of my neck. And because of that I didn’t want to trust my three month overdue shearing to just anyone.  I was heading to a salon. Again. With a more than full head of gray hair in all its out of control gloriousness.

I was in the trusty hands of a good friend. Thank god. The Corona conditions were gonna be bad enough; mask, wait in line out side the joint, etc… I felt it much better to be in the hands of someone I knew and someone I knew to be a serious professional when it came to the craft of styling hair.

So there I was, in the parking lot of the Ross & Co. contemplating putting on my mask. I was looking pretty swarthy. Tanned up olive complexion from playing golf, slicked back hair.  I was looking like an extra from God Father IV. As it was Tracy told me in no uncertain terms, “The Guido look has to go.” Guido, for the ill informed, is a slur hurled at Italians that we have embraced as a term of endearment. The sting removed long ago.

Heritage slight or no, she was right. It had to go. The hair was killing me. I couldn’t stand the way it felt. Regardless of how some liked the long curls. It just wasn’t a good look.  It was taking a lot more energy to wash and, god help me, use conditioner. My damn arms were getting tired.

My second ever trip to a salon was not as eye opening as the first, but it still went well. And if you live in the greater Knoxville area give Courtney a shout at Ross & Co. She’s a hairstylist of the first order. After a surprisingly smooth 30 minutes, mask and all, I was back to my short hair. I miss Joe the Barber, but the salon trip ain’t half bad.

Unfortunately no wash this time.

Damn you Corona!


Milo T Dog: Read My Lips

Can we all agree to get past the point that I (we) have a dog. And the fact that we, (I) love that damn mutt. After three years now I think you all have wrung out the whole, You’re a dog lover now. Ok, yes I am. Moving on.

Aside from Milo being my constant running partner when I’m home, he happens to be incredibly smart. He’s still exuberant, but obedient for the most part. He also appears to be getting smarter. Yeah he heeds more commands, but it’s more than that. Maybe you life long dog lovers have already experienced this.

I know this might seem crazy. Honestly I’m surprised I’m even typing this next sentence.  Lately it appears Milo is trying to talk. When I say talk I mean speak in human verbiage. We all know dogs can communicate on a high level with barks, body language and their eyes. No, the communication I’m referring to is Milo looking and sounding like he’s attempting to use human words of the English variety.

I think the more weird or maybe concerning part of it all is that I feel like I understand what he’s trying to say.

Usually when he needs or wants to go out he’ll stand by the door. Where I sit in my office affords me a clean view of the front door. So when he posts up on the door mat he expects that I see him and will respond quickly and efficiently. When I don’t move to his liking he approaches me and starts to do this weird wailing/whining type noise.


His, “Please stay home today.” look.

He looks right at me, backs up three of fours steps as he makes this weird noise.  All that as his head is bobbing up and down. It’s like he’s trying to say, “C’mon bro time to go.” And when I don’t move at that little exhortation he gets closer and starts talking. Bitching me out even. At least that what it sounds like.

The long whining switches to short bursts of sound and his mouth moving as if he’s trying to form words. I swear to you.

When he really needs to go out he gets more demonstrative. As if somehow the more he urges me,  the more he gestures, the easier for me to understand. If I didn’t know better I’d say he was scolding me for not understanding him.

He doesn’t do it for long.  Mainly because if it becomes clear that I don’t understand or I’m not going to comply he runs upstairs and bothers the Mrs. Milo is not long on patience.

God forbid I don’t understand him where he’s hungry. Which is always. But again, he doesn’t bark. He goes into this weird short burst growling/whining/wailing type machinations.  I firmly believe he’ll speak one day. I sit and wait for the day real English words come out of his mouth.

The only question is will they be the four letter version?