A night on the tracks.

OK, so it’s taken me a little longer than I thought it would to get my feet firmly planted on the ground after joining the workforce again. And yes, I’m aware raising kids is a full time job with no pay. I’ve been doing it since 2009 so all offended personnel can downshift and relax.

My hope is to get on a once a week schedule here. So check back next Saturday, I’ll do my best to meet you here. New job not withstanding.

Tons of stories emanating from my new place of business too. The irony, I can’t write those stories for several reasons. At some point I may be able to figure a generic, nonspecific to work function, way of telling them. But for now no dice. What I can write about are the events leading up to getting the job and what home life looks like now that I’m only in my home from 5pm to 4:45 am the next morning.

This is one of those. Enjoy.

A Night on the Tracks.

As a stay at home it turns out the work always comes to you, always. In the shower, a face appears pressed against the shower door. In the bathroom, a tiny hand appears under the door trying to pry it open. In bed at oh I don’t know, 5:30 in the am, a set of eyes stare at you out of the darkness like Children of the Corn. Work as a stay at home is always conveniently within arms reach.

We had a good run fellas.

We had a good run fellas.

Not so when someone hires you for a job. They expect you to come to them. Never occurred to me. I needed a new sled. The Starship Frankerprise would be staying with the kids. I would be leaving. That separation difficulty, mine not theirs, is another story all together. Never the less a new ride was in order.

So me and the Mrs hit the happy hour at Chuy’s and then went car shopping. Cause you know, drinking, nacho’s and driving new cars is a natural combination. Sort of like open flames and gasoline.

So off we went. Below is the recounting of that night.

“Oh I think we have a gallon or two, that should be plenty.”

That should have been my clue to park the car and exit immediately. But I’m an ass sometime so instead of being the smarter person I started calculating how far we may get from the dealership when the tank dries up and where might that be. Lots of roads, businesses, parking lots, etc… to choose from. Dead center of a railroad crossing never entered my mind.

I’m not very smart.

So as we crest a small hill and coast down to a RR Crossing and then a T intersection, the car gets amazingly quiet. Since I’m driving I know what just happened. We’re out of gas. Now my calculations spin from where we’ll stop to, Oh crap are we going to make it over this set of train tracks. The sales guy, ever the optimist says no problems, we’re fine. My response, Really bro cause unless this thing just switched into stealth mode, we’re out of gas.  Took him a few more ticks than I would have thought to catch on to the implications.

Tracy was in the back seat and either oblivious to what was going on up front or she was in the Who cares I just had the 2 for 1 margarita special at Chuy’s mode. I think I was more amused at the sales guy. He just wasn’t cluing in to or not accepting the fact that indeed we were out of gas and had breached the track crossing and needed a good tail wind to get all the way across.

Thankful we had the law of inertia working for us and we slowly moved across the tracks. But of course now the steering wheel is like a block of cement and we are at the T. Sales guy says ok get us on the shoulder by the tracks. Now all of a sudden he’s aware of the danger but still strangely unaware of what happens to a car when it runs out of gas. He’s getting hyper because I’m not executing a barrel roll to get us to the side of the road. I’m not busting him in his cake-hole because I need both hands to move the wheel a 1/4 inch so we can slowly roll to the gravel shoulder by the tracks. Cause you know, WE ARE OUT OF GAS SALES GUY!

We finally come to rest on the gravel about 5 feet from the tracks. For all my northern brethren, this is the south. Train tracks are not guarded by fencing or any other barricade. You can cross a street and walk right on to an active rail if you want. So that 5 feet will come to mean something. Generally what it meant was sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is in fact a train.

I see it first in the rear view mirror. I sarcastically say Oh look a train, just what we need, maybe they have gas. Sales guy stops his banter long enough to look in several mirrors to confirm it is a train. Good thing he was there. By the way, it’s the south. This is not a commuter train. It’s a 2 mile long chemical rail car train. How we were not flipped over or buffeted to pieces is beyond me. But the train did pass and we were able to put the windows down again.

That was a mistake.

Apparently a skunk, somewhere up the train line, had decided he was done with this cold cruel world and went towards the light. His odor followed the train about a minute after it passed us. The pungent was strong with this one. And just like that the skunk’s despair became ours.

A short 45 minutes later two people from the dealership show up. We were 3 miles from said dealership. Sales guy called the second the car came to a stop. Not entirely sure what was going on that required all that time to travel all that 3 miles. But they came with gas so at this point who cares. Sales guy says Oh it’s the general manager. I guess I was supposed to be impressed by that. Let me say if I have not already, I’m an ass. Three people would impress me if I met them: Chuck Yeager, Jesus, and Tiger Woods. And I’m not entirely sure of the order. The GM from a car dealership doesn’t even make the third cut of that list. But like I said he brought a guy who brought gas so who cares. Just filler up bub.

Upon seeing the gas can it occurred to me what took so long. They time traveled back to 1960 Mayberry so they could hit Wally’s Filling Station and borrow it from Goober. Didn’t even have a spout. They brought a funnel. It was a good looking funnel. Apparently it was not a functioning funnel. I say that because half way through the filling process the GM reached over his other sales guy and inexplicably grabbed the can. It, of course, disengaged the funnel and covered the GM and his nice suit in gas.

Well how could it not? At least the gas smell covered over the stink of despair from our dear departed skunk. So it should no be a surprise at this point to know they put the gas covered gas can in the trunk of the car we may buy. I guess that was better than one of those old pine tree air fresheners. We did make it back to the dealer without incident. Or should I say without further incident.

Old and new, side by side. No skunks.

Old and new, side by side. No skunks.

I will say while we did not buy that car, it sold the next day skunk despair/gas fumes and all, we did go back and buy a similar car. The dealer is Auto Nation Honda in Knoxville and aside from this little tale they are great. We bought the Frankerprise from them and the service department is really the bees knees. Hard to beat waiting for your car to get an oil change while you eat from a complimentary dessert buffet and get a massage. Really, they have masseuses and fudge stripe cookies free for people waiting for their cars ! Fudge Stripes and a free rub down? How can you beat that?

So a little night on the tracks wasn’t going to deter us from getting my new ride. If you’re in Knoxville and looking for a car, do yourself a favor and go see them.

Bring your own gas can.

“I want to be called Francis”

So we’ve entered a phase. It might be our first one come to think of it. I’m not sure what to name it, or if it even has a name. I do know I need to be recording Frank every second of the day right now. Some of the stuff coming out of his mouth is just unbelievable.

He’s been making a lot of declarations about what he will and will no longer be doing. Hard to explain so here’s the first example.

When we go to The Kroger, the bakery usually has a bin of free cookies out. Our routine is simple, we go for the cookies when we start our final run on the back wall in the dairy section. That takes us past the eggs, butter, cheese and sends us right into the meats and then the bakery. The on to the hippie section (read: organic) for the milk and veggies and then to the check out. By then he’s done the cookie and he gets to work putting the cart stuff on the belt.

So the other day we roll up on paper towel aisle, our last dry goods stop before we bank hard right to dairy, and I realize he has not mentioned the cookies once. Normally he’ll make my ears bleed about how close we’re getting to the cookies. A little running commentary about our cookie proximity that would make a normal man throw himself into on coming traffic. But I’ve become more powerful since Anne Marie has made the scene, so I can repel his annoying. But the silence, the silence about the cookie is now front and center in my head. If Obi Wan Kenobi were here he’d call me a weak minded fool. What’s his angle? Is he gonna work me for ice cream instead? This boy plottin on me somehow someway.

We get to the bakery and the moment of truth has arrived. I reach for his allotment and out it comes. “I will not be having Kroger cookies anymore.” Uh wut? ” I don’t need them daddy.” No one needs cookies Frank. Cookies are never about need. Cookies, much like the pumpkin spice doughnuts that come out at Thanksgiving, are all about want. “Well I don’t want it daddy.” Well OK then Frank, but I’m having one.

The problem was I had already picked up two. Then I remembered the hobos grab three or four and sometime drop one back in. So I dropped one back in the bin. Problem solved. Tip for you Kroger shoppers, never take the weekend cookies. Only the weekday cookies are generally untouched. You’re welcome.

About a day later the big enchilada dropped.

I was summoned to the bedroom where my oldest child was sitting in a very serious manner with a very serious look on his face. His mother had a rye smile. I was entering a mine field of which there would be no safe passage. Well no point in tap dancing. Let’s get to it. “What’s up Frank?”

“I don’t want to be called Frank anymore.”

Oh shit. My first thought was he’s on some kind of cosmic self awareness journey. He’s been acting strange. He’s on some minimalist bent. No cookies at The Kroger, wouldn’t pick any toys from the toy store after a bit of a harrowing doc appointment because he said “I don’t need it.” and now a name change. My hope was we wouldn’t have to call him moon unit or just some sort of crazy symbol. Then I thought maybe he wants to go by Oso or Lambie or Rocket or Deputy Peck or some other character from Disney Jr.

“I want to be called Francis.”


Turned five - went bonkers. Note the minimalist cake.

Turned five – went bonkers. Note the minimalist cake.

Well that is his legal name. The first born male in an Italian family is named for his grandfather. My grandfather’s name was James so my oldest brother’s name is James. My dad’s name is Francis and goes by Frank, so my son’s name is Francis and we call him Frank. This wold not be a big shift to call him Francis. Or so I thought.

I tried it out a few times. It felt weird. Now I’m thinking he’ll get over it before bedtime so just go with it. “OK Frank, it’s your name and you…” “It’s Francis.” “What?” “It’s Francis daddy, you called me Frank.” “Sorry bud OK, Francis. Like I said, it’s your name and you have the right to be called by your name. Francis it is!”

He seemed happy.

Mrs Frank’s Place on the other hand…

There is a reason we call him Frank. Tracy doesn’t like the name Francis very much. It happens to be my name and I go by that. I’m not Frank or Franny or Michael, my middle name, I have always gone by Francis. So while Tracy was assaulting my entire heritage, Frank or Francis, was happy with his name change. No idea what’s spawning all this but we were both hoping he’d get over it after a few minutes.

Took two days. He corrected us every time we called him Frank for the next two days. Then it went the way of the Dodo.

He’s back to Frank. For now.

If you see him in the next few months and he’s wearing Jedi robes and goes by the name Knarf O’dranil, remember you’ve been warned.






Let’s do crafts!

Of the things you never expect to hear from your kid, “Daddy these are my mountains!” as he points to his chest was at the top of my list. However we may have a new contender in the, holy crap did he just say what I think he said, top five list.

“Daddy can we do crafts?”

Really Frank.

“Yeah, let’s do crafts!”

Oh boy.

The only reason this may take the top spot from the These are my mountains! comment is it will require action on my part. I wasn’t invested in the other thing. But crafts, I’m gonna be required to be on site the entire time. I mean, that sounds like it involves glue and scissors and permanent marker and god help me, glitter. Gotta believe there is play-dough in there somewhere too.

So it will be the gift that keeps on giving. On hand the entire time so his sister doesn’t try to remove his spleen with the scissors, and she can do it. Read here: Running with scissors. Plus I’ll have to clean up the aftermath, the play-dough encrusted, paste globulated, glitter enhanced aftermath.

What do you mean spell check has no suggestions for the spelling of globulated? I just spelled it. Clearly the spell check people are devoid of children.

So yeah, crafts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Not Betty Crocker, but not bad.

Not Chef Mimi, but not bad.

He’s not terrible at that kind of stuff. Here’s a look at his first pie crust attempt. It was…. a little… lacking in moisture if you know what I’m saying. Dry, dry as the Sahara. I could have broken off a piece and stabbed the prison guard with it.

Willingness and enjoying himself in the kitchen are all that maters at this point. Results will come later I guess. So he has some skills in the craftiness area, but for some reason sitting at a table with glue, glitter, scissors and paper seems like it will be much more messy than making stuff in the kitchen.

And again, no payoff for mucho investment on my part. Just the pride coming from a job well done of cleaning up another mess.

But hey, I’m a parent of the people. The boy wants to do crafts who am I to stand in the way, crafts it is. Of course not to be outdone I get “crafts too!” from his little sister. This will be nothing more than an adventure in how much play-dough makes it back into the jar and how much comes out in her diaper sometime tomorrow.

Why don’t these kids ever want to play janitor?