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The Newest Room In My House Is Adorable….And #%$&ing Terrifying.

February 1, 2015


Welcome to the newest room in my house. It’s freshly painted, newly furnished, and smells fantastic. But it’s so much more than a room: it’s a rorschach test. Go ahead, gaze at it for a while and tell me what you see.

What’s that? You see a nursery? Congratulations, you’re probably a mature, well-adjusted individual, busy sipping on your glass half full of dreams….and I’ve got no time for any of that nonsense.

Everyone else who sees a landing spot on D-Day, climb in the Higgins boat with me. There’s plenty of room.

$#%&’s about to get real, y’all. I’m going to be in charge of another human being….yeah, because that sounds like a good idea. I AM NOT PREPARED FOR THIS!!! Oh, sure, I sat through parenting classes. I sat through ALL the parenting classes. But all that noise goes out the window when the beach finally comes into view and it’s go time. And I know me. There’s going to be no organized plan of attack, no calm efficiency; just me running around wildly, yelling at things and shooting fatherhood all over the place. I don’t even know what that sentence means. I just know it’s true.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my son and he’s the answer to a prayer, but I know I’m in over my head. By a lot. For starters, I’m not a kid person by nature. (Oddly enough, some people take this as a cue to plop a baby in your lap and insist you agree with them about how adorable their little crumb snatcher is, like you need to be cured or something. That’s not annoying at all…) I don’t do baby talk and they don’t do adult talk; it’s just not a good match.

No worries, though, the world is filled with people who think children are unicorn levels of magic; I’m just not one of them. So, FYI, if you happen to get a sizable part of your significance from having people fawn over your sex trophy, go find one of those people. I’m not your best bet. For the most part, I keep it parked at the adult table….although, there has been the occasional glaring exception. Nothing personal, kids, you’re just not that interesting. I’ll pause here to give all the parents I’ve just offended a moment to calm down…

To add to that, my childhood was not a pleasant experience and I hold no nostalgia for that period of life. As a result, I’ve never looked forward to revisiting it through kids of my own. The prospect of parenthood has mostly been a source of anxiety for me and, for the most part, I’ve kept all thoughts of it pushed to the back of my mind.  Way back….like, back where I keep memories of the Yankees blowing a three game lead in the ALCS, tight rolls, and other assorted catastrophes.

So I’m pretty much walking into this thing parenting muscles unstretched. I don’t even own a pet. And while I’m not worried about liking my kid — I’ve seen the sonograms; he’s got badass written all over him — I know he’s going to grow and make friends with other peoples’ kids. And that thought gives me a headache.

I’m also not a great multitasker, and I hear kids require a lot of that sort of thing. At least, I think that’s what my friends with kids were telling me. I was too busy getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep to pay much attention to their parenting complaints. But one thing I do know: the diapers are real…and they are coming. May God have mercy on my soul.

All that being said, I’m looking forward to meeting my son. I’m just scared to death. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m ready. And the answer to that stupid question is “No.” But I can see the coastline on the horizon, regardless, and I know it’s almost time to get out the boat and hit the shore, ready or not.  I have no idea what it’s going to look like; I just know it’s going to change me. And change, however healthy and natural, is really $%&@ing terrifying.

The version of Aaron writing this post is about to be gone, soon to be nothing more than a face in some old photographs or a faded memory in the minds of people who knew him when. And, in a way, that’s bittersweet, as so many endings are. But, on the plus side, the new version comes with a wing man. And that’s pretty cool. In fact, somebody cue up that Kenny Loggins song and gas up the ride. My boy and I have some cruising to do. 


I’m just a Maverick waiting for my Goose.

 See y’all on the flip side…

Winning Graciously Is For Losers

January 9, 2014

#1 HatFantasy Football is a fickle mistress…, wait, that’s putting it too mildly. Fantasy Football is a heartless bitch who will screw you over any chance she gets. She will burn down your house and make out with your best friend on the ashes. Then she’ll make that her Christmas card. That’s the kind of gut wrenching pain that I, along with millions of others across the country, put myself through every year. And, sure, you can swear it off…..but you’ll be back. You’ll always come back. You know it, I know it, and that black-hearted harpy for damn sure knows it.

Because as soon as Spring starts to give way to Summer, you’ll begin to forget about the soul crushing agony and just remember the good times. You’ll just remember how much fun it was that time you had Aaron Rodgers and Arian Foster on the same team and how they would put up ridiculous amounts of points each week…..and it will completely slip your mind what it felt like when the two most sure things in fantasy that year were shut down because the Lions’ and Giants’ defenses somehow managed to be competent in the same week. And the week in question? The first week of the fantasy playoffs.

And then you’ll go on to reminisce about the euphoric feeling of owning Jimmy Graham in a PPR league….and completely overlook the gut punch of the time you just needed a measly eight points from him, only to have him tweak his ankle on his first reception and spend the rest of the game as a decoy. Oh, sure, he was still out there–the fantasy she-devil made sure of that. It was her great pleasure to watch you watch Jimmy hobble around for three hours in the vain hope that maybe, just maybe, he would catch a pass or two to preserve your playoff hopes. But he didn’t. Of course he didn’t. Because, you see, you are merely Fantasy’s plaything, a toy for her amusement–DANCE, MONKEY, DANCE!!!

But as training camps begin to open, marking the beginning of the final countdown to another NFL season, all of those painful memories will be but mere distant, shadowy recollections in the far recesses of your mind and you will once again hear the siren call of Fantasy and point your battered ship toward her alluring song once more in the hopes that this time it will all be different. Because you’re an idiot. Just like the rest of us.

Now, having said all that, you would think that should the day arrive where Fantasy decides to not mercilessly kick me in the junk and I emerge victorious from the rabble clamoring for fantasy glory, that I would remember the struggle and heartache and accept my crown with more than a touch of grace and humility……NOPE!!!


In fact, I’m just going to leave the score from the championship game here for posterity:

Why, yes, that is 28 points by my kicker. How'd that taste, Dark Knightz? THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR BESMIRCHING THE NAME OF THE GREATEST SUPERHERO OF ALL TIME!!!

Why, yes, that is 28 points you see from my kicker. How’d that taste, Dark Knightz? THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR BESMIRCHING THE NAME OF THE GREATEST SUPERHERO OF ALL TIME!!!

Yeah, it took me about three seconds after the final game clock expired to decide that class and friendships are overrated and to begin to draft my victory letter to the league. Are victory letters customary in our league? Nope. But you know who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about “customary”? Winners. And in this case, that would be me. And as the recipient of a football-shaped trophy and a windfall of literally dozens of dollars, I make the rules around here.

So here it is, the letter that I posted to the league website to commemorate my glorious achievement….and also because I’m kind of a jerk. READ IT!!!

Dear Losers,

It goes without saying that we here at the GPC couldn’t be more thrilled with our total domination of your “teams” over the course of this season. While it didn’t really come as a surprise given the fact of how truly awful all of you are at every facet of the game, it was nevertheless our great pleasure to crush all of your hopes and dreams. It is what truly motivates us. In fact, we are currently looking into methods of collecting and preserving the tears of the foes we’ve vanquished in order that we may bathe in them at our leisure. Once the system is perfected, our Tear Collection Agents (TCAs) will be in contact with each of you to make collection appointments at your earliest convenience.

Now, as we share in this great day in the history of mankind—us on the throne of victory and the rest of you in the doldrums of despair and hopelessness—we think it only appropriate to pause and reflect on the enormity of the moment.  Just three short seasons ago we entered this sad little league as an upstart underdog with no keeper and only blind hatred and rage to keep us company…and Jimmy Graham, who you wizards let slip to the ninth round because you all were “too good for tight ends.”  Three years later, the TE spot is now mandatory (You’re welcome for the foresight.) and we stand before you as champions—no doubt, in large part, because we were in the enviable position to further retain the services of Mr. Graham for a fifth round pick.  This season was truly the full flowering of that seed planted three years ago. And since it is the policy of the GPC to give credit where credit is due, we would like to thank all of you for being the manure that helped it grow so quickly.

In closing, and in the spirit of the holiday season, we here at the GPC would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas in the hopes that the ineptitude that plagues your fantasy football lives doesn’t extend into other areas of your existence to the point that you are unable to assemble your children’s Christmas toys correctly or operate motor vehicles. We’re almost positive that if you all try hard enough you can somehow manage to not horribly injure yourselves or your loved ones this holiday season. Maybe.

And even though the 2013 fantasy year has now drawn to a close, know that the memories of the numerous merciless beatings we handed out this year will forever warm our heart…much like the heat from the smoldering remains of your “teams” warms your collective hands as you all stand huddled together around the dumpster fire that was your fantasy seasons. Good times.

Lastly, we here at the GPC are eagerly looking forward to the awards ceremony, where we will gladly accept both your trophy and your money…to add to your pride and dignity, which we have been taking all season long. We hope you are as excited as we are.  See you all there.

Again, thanks for being terrible at fantasy football.


Owner/CEO/Imperial Overlord
Greyskull Power Company
KFFL Champions 2013
“We have the power.”

So, needless to say, I did not toss the ball to the ref and act like I’d been there before. 

What Happens When You Insist I Do Things That Make No Sense.

May 26, 2013
tags: ,

Birthday Card

My wife thought I should take care of the card for our nephew’s second birthday. I thought spending money on a card for someone who couldn’t read yet was a dumb idea. I mean, seriously, does anyone give less of a crap about anything than a two year old does about a birthday card? And let’s be honest, the most awful part of any toddler birthday party is when the parents insist on reading the cards to their sex trophy while trying in vain to make them sit still and pretend to give a rat’s ass. It’s a pointless, awkward endeavor that benefits no one. Can we please just end the charade already. Honestly, trees shouldn’t be dying for this.

But despite the fact that I’m so right on this, my wife informed me that I was wrong. So, fine, I’m nothing if not a team player. I’ll toss common sense aside and take part in this ridiculous tradition. In fact, honey, don’t even worry about the inscription. I’ll take care of everything. Because I love you.

Also, on a totally unrelated note, it turns out that I have a very comfortable couch.

Things About Me That Annoy My Friends: Heavy Metal Edition

May 20, 2013


The world is a big place filled with lots and lots of people. And if there’s one thing I know about people, it’s this: they’re annoying. All of them. Myself included. As much as I’d like to think I’m an exception to that constant, I know I’m not. Hell, I annoy myself sometimes. I can only imagine the restraint my friends have had to exercise at times to not push me down a flight of stairs. I understand. And I appreciate it. And it is in gratitude of that effort that I’ve decided to periodically acknowledge some of the things about yours truly that annoy the crap out of my friends. Enjoy.

First, the facts:  I’m male, I’m white, and I play electric guitar in a band. Of course, none of those things are annoying in and of themselves, but, apparently, there are expectations that come with the combination. At least according to my friends in the band. And it is the failure to meet those expectations that brings us here today. Namely, I don’t like metal. At all. Be it heavy, speed, thrash or whatever adjective you want to put in front of it, it all sounds like soulless noise to me, for the most part. (GET OFF MY LAWN!!!)  And this is not only a bummer for my friends, it also annoys them. Greatly.

Bob Dylan, a.k.a, the bane of my wife's carpooling existence.

Bob Dylan, a.k.a., the bane of my wife’s carpooling existence. Source:

Now, in most other areas of life, I don’t think passions are aroused too greatly over the stating of simple preferences. However, I do understand it in this case. For whatever reason, people tend to hold tightly to the music they love and defend it. I’m no different. Just the other day, my wife told me that she hates when I listen to Bob Dylan in the car. Of course, my natural response was to inform her that this marriage was over.  She just laughs when I say stuff like that. She thinks it’s cute when I act like there’s a chance I could find another woman willing to put up with me. Maybe she’s right. Regardless, she bought herself a long car ride with me and Bob. Because I’m petty like that.

But I think what that really gets under my friends’ skin on this particular issue is that I like so many things that are kinda sorta in the same ballpark as metal (Led Zeppelin, AC/DC), but not metal itself.  It’s like they think I’m a closeted headbanger and just need to be educated and brought out into the light…..or to the dark side; I’m not sure how that works in this case. Either way, I just don’t get it. Maybe I didn’t hear enough of it in my formative years. Maybe I just don’t have an aggressive enough personality to appreciate it. Who knows? When they hear it, they hear the sound of their youth. They connect with it and it moves them. That’s fantastic. To me, it sounds like someone stole Cookie Monster’s lunch money and he’s pissed. Yeah, I said it…

Now, of course, there are always exceptions and you can always find a song here and there you like in any genre. And here is where I learned the hard way that you should never, under any circumstance, tell hardcore Metallica fans that the only Metallica song you really like is “Enter Sandman.” Not unless you want a bass thrown at you. Hard. Apparently, that’s not REAL Metallica. Or so I’m told.

And did I stop there? Oh no. Just to fully ensure that there is a future lighting rig “accident” with my name on it, I went on to reveal that, if forced to choose, I would actually take hip hop over metal. That went over spectacularly. And, finally, when I mentioned how much I happened to like the Gin Blossoms song playing on the radio at the time in the restaurant, eyes were rolled so hard I’m surprised the earth didn’t shift on its axis. Oh, yeah, my friends are annoyed. They’re annoyed real good.

Drop The Needle Again

July 20, 2012

In my ongoing quest to make as many awesome decisions as I can before I die, I got another tattoo. Well, two, actually. But since I had to space them a few weeks apart, I’ve decided to post them one at a time.

This masterpiece of blinding awesomeness, I got for my 31st birthday. It’s not an original idea by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I’ve seen a few others very similar to it sported by fellow fans of a particular band from New Jersey. I even considered not getting it for that very reason. Because, as much as I love them (the band; I don’t really know the fans), I didn’t want it to come off as just a cookie cutter homage to them because I was shooting for something a little bigger. I wanted something to mark my love of music in general, not one act in particular.

My wife initially suggested that I get a guitar tattoo since that’s what I play. But a guitar tattoo would suggest that I’m more proficient on the instrument than I actually am. And the last thing I would want is a bunch of people saying, “So you must be pretty good, huh?” and me having to respond with, “Define ‘good.'” But, who knows, maybe one day when I know more than one scale.

Besides, I had had the gramophone in mind for a while and was thinking more along the lines of how some songs/albums become almost a part of our DNA. If you stop and think about it, it really is a very personal, mysterious and powerful thing. I still remember listening to my parents Motown records as a kid and the Sam Cooke tape that my mom and I would play over and over in the car while she was driving me to school. All those songs feel like home to me now. Probably still will when I’m eighty. And, sure, an iPod would have been a more accurate depiction of my current listening habits, but where’s the romance and nostalgia in that? Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPod, but pressing “play” will never offer the same sense of satisfaction as dropping the needle on a record.

Now, as far as the rose goes, I’ve read somewhere that it is a symbol of timeless beauty, among other things. And I could certainly sit here and wax poetic on how that symbolism ties in with the essence of great music and how both a song and a rose, with its thorns, can be both beautiful and painful at the same time and blah, blah, blah….and that would all be true. But at the end of the day, it just looks really $%&@ing cool.

The quote says, “We sing with our heroes 33 rounds per minute.” It’s from a song called “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” by The Gaslight Anthem, that particular band from New Jersey I mentioned earlier and one of my favorites. It’s a really popular line for fans to get tattooed and, as I previously stated, that fact initially gave me pause. But I soon realized that I wasn’t going to find a better line to sum up my feelings on the subject. And, in the end, who cares how many people have the same line tattooed on them. It’s brilliant. More people should have it. Like the song says, “We like our choruses sung together/We like our arms in our brothers’ arms.” If some of those arms happen to have similar tattoos on them, even better. Because music and life are best when shared. So why not tattoos?

Anyway, I’m exceedingly happy with how the tattoo turned out. It was, indeed, an awesome decision. I did, however, foolishly go into it thinking that getting tattooed on my shoulder would somehow be less painful than the inside of my forearm. And I was wrong. It hurt more. It was still bearable and I walked out with my dignity still largely intact, but, damn, that was a long four hours. Worth it.

And for anyone who hasn’t heard it, here is “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” by The Gaslight Anthem. It’s brilliant in both its simplicity and its emotional punch and is definitely tattoo worthy.  I could go on and on, but it’s probably best that I shut up and just let you listen to the song.  Enjoy.

(Once again, this tattoo was done by Lirette at MidCity Voodoux Tattoos.)

The Jerk Store: It Called.

June 12, 2012

Several weeks ago, I decided for the second time in my life to break one of the cardinal rules I live by: No outdoor music festivals. They’re hot, I’m pale, port-o-potties are essentially giant boxes of AIDS. It’s just not a good scene for me. However, when Bruce Springsteen decides to play Jazz Fest, exceptions are made: Sunscreen is heavily applied, money for overpriced water is withdrawn and bottles of hand sanitizer are procured. Because if The Boss is punching in for work in the New Orleans humidity, then so am I. And while I couldn’t talk my wife into accompanying me on this adventure, she did agree to drop me off at the gate and pick me up afterwards so I didn’t have to worry about parking. I married a team player.

A little background: The first time I broke this rule was also for Springsteen. It was the first Jazz Fest after Hurricane Katrina and it was one of the most moving performances I have ever witnessed. When he played “My City Of Ruins” and debuted his version of “When The Saints Go Marching In,” grown men cried. That show is now part of New Orleans legend. And while it was definitely crowded that day in 2006, and despite the fact I arrived only an hour before he was set to take the stage, I was nevertheless able to maneuver through the crowd and find a decent spot on the grass from which to take in the show. See, not bad…

Not Courtney Cox close, but good enough.

So, this year, I figured I would be able to roll the dice again and get away with the same thing…….and I was wrong. Upon entering the grounds, I asked a lady working the event for directions to the Acura Stage. After she pointed me in the right direction, I asked, “And that’s where Bruce will be, right?” “Yeah,” she said, “along with 10 million other people.” She was only slightly exaggerating. I’ve seen disturbed fire ant mounds that were less crowded. After circling the field for almost half an hour, the best I could do was eight deep on the dirt track that encircled the grass. I brought binoculars. I needed a telescope.

Just out of frame to the right is the Sphinx.

And it was back here, in BFE, that I found myself in one of those situations where you are forced to consider the question:


Let me explain. After finally finding a spot with a decent sight line to the stage, I unfolded my chair and struck up a conversation with a guy from Dallas named Gary. After a few minutes of pleasant conversation, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to find a woman who appeared to be in her seventies accompanied by a man appearing to be in his fifties. I was standing at the time and she asked me if the chair behind me was mine. I told her it was. She said if I wasn’t using it at the moment, did I mind if an old lady sat in it for a while and rested.

Being a relatively nice guy, I said, “Sure,” grabbed my $3 bottle of water from the arm rest and moved over for her to sit down. I figured she’d rest for a few minutes, get back up and be on her way. No big deal. I go back to talking with my new friend, Gary. After a minute or two, I notice out the corner of my eye that the she is already getting up… pull the chair up to join the party in the row in front of me. Several people immediately converge to fill in the gap where my chair used to be. Then, looking around, I notice that the guy that was accompanying her is now nowhere to be found. Awesome.

As for Gram Gram, she is busy cozying up to some ladies in the group camped out in front of us like she has known them her entire life. Gary tells me, “I think you just lost your chair.” Gary is right. SON OF A #@$&!!! She does, however, turn back briefly from her conversation with her new-found best friends to say, “Just tell me when you want your chair back.” I know this game, Grams. That is old lady code for, “This is my chair now, bitch.” She’s definitely banking on the hope that a thirty year old man will not risk looking like an insensitive douche by taking a chair from a senior citizen. Well played, old lady, well played.

I was obviously dealing with a pro.*

Twenty minutes roll by and this chick is not moving. Neither has her escort returned. The time for Bruce to take the stage is drawing close and I’m getting progressively more pissed by the second. Now, I know, I know, I’m young, she’s old and this is really just a minor inconvenience, what with children starving in India and whatnot……BUT IT’S MY CHAIR!!! I PLANNED AHEAD, SHE DIDN’T AND I’M STILL GETTING SCREWED INTO STANDING FOR TWO AND A HALF HOURS!!! AGHHH!!! And just in case you missed it, I’ve already spelled out my general dislike of standing at concerts here. Only this time, instead of having to deal with a drunk girl constantly stumbling into me, it’s a little old lady conning me out of my seat. Green Day was right: Nice guys do finish last….right behind the drunk and elderly.

You know, sometimes, when I find myself in awkward situations like this, I ask myself “What would Jesus do?” But given the fact I had the feeling that Jesus would have just let her have the chair, and that not being the answer I wanted to hear, I thought I would ask a much better question: What would Gary do? So I ask Gary, “On a scale from one to ten, how big of a jerk am I if I ask for my chair back?” I figured I should probably give a scale because, let’s face it, taking a chair back from a senior citizen is not going to cause someone to accuse you of not being a jerk. But just HOW BIG of a jerk does it make you? If it’s less than five, I can live with that. “Zero from me,” Gary replied, “It’s your chair and you’ve let her use it for twenty minutes. She should have brought her own.” I like Gary. Gary is good people. Now, granted, that was just one opinion out of the thousands that were there, but it was plenty good enough for me. And being that the instrument techs appeared to be wrapping up their pre-show duties, it was the only opinion I was going to have time to take before the show started and I lost the chair for good.

So, moment of truth: Do I take back my small oasis in the middle of Jazz Fest purgatory, or do I just swallow my annoyance and let it be? Oh, I kicked Grandma to the curb. I didn’t feel great about it, but let’s look at the facts. This isn’t a crowded subway; it’s a music festival. There is no public seating provided to the general admission public. It’s bring your own chair. And you didn’t. And then when someone lets you use their chair, you grab it and drag it off to join a different group of people. I don’t care if you lived through two world wars, that’s just rude. And rude people stand. Even grandmas. There was a notable shock on her face when I asked for it back….and if I would have thought about it too much, I could have let it really get to me….but I was too busy….sitting in my chair.

Why, yes, that is an angelic chorus you hear.

And, as it turned out, this was only a minor speed bump for Granny. She almost immediately turned to the guy sitting in front of me and asked if the chair next to him was taken. He told her it was his fiancee’s. To which she replied, and I quote, “Well, is she here?” Grandma has got some stones. I’ll definitely give her that. And she sat in that chair for at least half the concert, until her mystery man finally reappeared and they wandered off. Where the guy’s fiancee was for over half the show, I have no idea. Perhaps she didn’t realize that Bruce $%@&ing Springsteen was playing. Or maybe she did and chose to skip because she has horrible taste in music. But I can only speculate. Whatever the reason, that crew left before the show was over anyway, which is another pet peeve of mine, but that’s for another day.

Anyway, the concert finally came to an end (but not before Bruce broke out “Saints” again, cleverly sandwiched in the middle of “Rocky Ground”) and I packed up my chair, shook hands with Gary and hiked back to the entrance and up the street, where my wife dutifully picked me up and brought me home. Looking back on it now, it was definitely worth breaking my “no music festival” policy for the second time. Not only was the concert phenomenal, but I also got to see Bruce & E Street perform a song with Dr. John, I had a nice conversation with an out-of-towner and I got to put a senior citizen in her place….kind of. All in all, not too bad of an afternoon. And the cherry on top of my Jazz Fest Sunday:  The sanitation level of the port-o-potty I used was actually okay….I’ve got to say it was a good day.

* Artist John Wagner created Maxine in 1986 as a new character line for the Shoebox Greetings™ card division of Hallmark.

How I Know I’m Getting Old, Gregg Williams & The Very Real Possiblity Of Puking Onstage…

April 10, 2012

My break for the holidays somehow extended into April. My bad.

To get the ball rolling again on this little vanity project, I think a little catching up is in order. So, let’s see, what has happened since my neighbors almost burned down my house last year?

I started playing guitar in one of the bands at church. It’s been going well, despite the fact I’ve almost thrown up from nerves on several occasions. You see, “play” is kind of a strong word to describe what I do, since I don’t really “grasp” musical theory. I’m a little short on what the experts would call “talent.” So imagine my delight when I show up to play in a band for THE FIRST TIME EVER and the drummer doesn’t show. Wondering how this affects me? Glad you asked. You see, the plan was for me to be the second guitar (read: stand in the back, hit some chords, act like I’m doing something really important). Now, with the drummer M.I.A., the singer/really good guitar player had to lead from the drums, Don Henley-style. Guess who that left flying solo on guitar? That’s right, THIS GUY!! And this happened in church. Where I couldn’t curse or throw things. Fantastic.

Now, I don’t get that nervous talking in front of people, but it’s a whole different story when it comes to guitar. My palms get sweaty, my muscles tighten and I totally blank on chord changes. It’s all the makings of a slow death. And to top off the fact that I just learned these songs a couple days earlier, the band leader, Ronnie, looks over from the drum kit during sound check and informs me that I’ll be starting off the third song unaccompanied and the band will come in after a little while. WHAT?!! WE’RE TRUSTING ME TO PLAY IN TIME NOW?!! At that point, I thought about suggesting a name change from “Worship Band 2” to “The Hindenburg.” Either way, we’d be on fire for Jesus.

Fast forward through the rest of rehearsal/soundcheck to standing on stage, moments before the set. There were two options at this point: 1.) Play well, or 2.) Play like crap, and since it’s a Celebrate Recovery meeting, tell everyone the drugs haven’t worn off yet and that I actually sounded fantastic. That’s right, I have no shame. Thankfully, though, it didn’t come to that. God had mercy. My hands loosened up, my focus was sharp-ish and the few glitches weren’t momentum breaking. Also, my bandmates are much more talented than I am, which helps.

I like to think that I walked away with a little “stepped out in faith” badge that night. If nothing else, it was great preparation for when, later down the road, Ronnie would turn to me during rehearsal, half an hour before the performance, while the band was rehearsing a song I hadn’t had a chance to learn, show me a scale and tell me to “play whatever I feel.” I feel like puking, Ronnie. How is that best expressed with an E major pentatonic? Thankfully, God was merciful then, as well. And, in all seriousness, I am getting much better and my bandmates are great and encouraging and just all around wonderful people. I’m honored to get to play and learn with them. Overall, it has been a wonderful experience……that sometimes I feel I need to bring a bucket to. Just in case.

While we’re on the subject of music, I took my wife to a Better Than Ezra concert around New Years, where it became readily apparent that I am getting old. Not so old that I’m ready to start yelling at kids to get off my lawn, but if I’m going to a concert, I definitely want a chair. Seriously. I wanted to just enjoy the show, but all I could really think about was how hot I was, how much my feet hurt and what I was going to do if the drunk four, who thought she was a nine, elbowed me in the side one more time.

Because nothing says “thrash metal” like this guy…

Consequently, what is it about a few drinks and little rock ‘n’ roll that makes girls lose their &#%$ing minds? Because while I was busy plotting out that chick’s fall down a flight of stairs, my wife and brother-in-law were enduring lashings from a girl, hammered out of her mind, swinging her long hair around like a windmill. Hey, honey, we’re at a BTE show, not Metallica. Nothing here is that heavy. And with the way she was stumbling, you would think her girlfriends would be watching her carefully. And you would be wrong. After falling into my wife and brother-in-law a few times, she eventually found the floor. Thank you, gravity.

And then there was the portion where the band invited girls from the audience to dance on the stage. Almost a good idea. Twenty jump on stage; one can actually dance. Granted, I consider “the running man” dancing, but this girl had obviously done her homework on the subtle nuances of MC Hammer. And, for that, she is to be applauded. The rest just awkwardly wiggled in place and tried to take pictures with the band….while they were trying to play and sing. And I’m not even going to get into the dude repeatedly yelling “shut up and sing” whenever the singer paused to talk for a minute. Stay classy, dude. God forbid a performer actually tries to connect with the audience. Now, granted, I don’t really like crowds, but I can’t be the only one who gets annoyed by peoples’ general lack of awareness and respect for others. A friend of mine puts it this way: People suck everywhere. I find that a hard notion to refute at times. But I know, I know, I’m no fun. I’m going to go yell at some kittens now….

Speaking of cuddly creatures, I ran into Gregg Williams at the airport the weekend after the San Francisco game, in which I hear the unthinkable happened. Something about the defensive coordinator electing to leave the 49’ers only decent receiving option in single coverage repeatedly. That’s what I’m told, anyway. I’ve blocked all those memories out. Days spent curled up in the fetal position crying can have that effect. But I digress.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

Anyway, he was on the same flight to Dallas as my family and me. I happened to finish checking in first and was standing by the luggage drop-off area, waiting for the rest of my party to catch up. Williams finished checking in and started to head toward the terminal. As he approached me, I knew I had three options: A) Ignore him, B) Tackle him or C) Take the high road and thank him for his service. Now, despite the fact that it was very early in the morning, my conscience seemed to be awake, so I went with Option C. Plus, in my mind, helping us win a Super Bowl far outweighed the tragic decision to not double cover Vernon Davis. So, as he passed, I simply said, “Thanks, Gregg.” He paused, thanked me and said it meant a lot. He was very gracious and came across as genuine. It was a cool moment. He even signed a visor for my brother-in-law, the eBay value of which has since plummeted.

And I have to say, it has been somewhat bizarre to watch the news since the bounty story broke and have these descriptions of him as some kind of monster juxtaposed against the memory of this smiling, seemingly affable, guy. And as overblown as I think this whole thing has been, I’m glad that the G Dub chapter in New Orleans has come to a close and that we are moving on as an organization. Whether or not this scandal ever happened, it was time. I’m really looking forward to what SpagNOLA is going to bring to the table, especially with the defensive moves we’ve made this offseason. And despite Sean Payton’s suspension, I truly believe we are still in position to make a serious run at this thing. If any team is built to weather this kind of storm, it’s us. It all hinges on one thing: #9. Make it happen, Loomis.  *[Hindsight is 20/20 note: The second half of this paragraph might just be the most wrong I’ve ever been about anything.]

So let’s recap. I’m enjoying playing guitar, despite the very real possibility of puking onstage from nerves. If I’m going to watch other people play guitar, I want a chair. Preferably, a comfortable chair. You know, for my old, feeble bones and whatnot. People still suck. And I’ve met exactly one member of the Saints organization in my life: arguably the most radioactive member in the franchise’s history. And, believe it or not, he actually seemed to be a nice guy.

Now, oddly enough, all of this kind of ties together. You see, it was our band’s turn in the rotation the weekend of the San Francisco game. The setlist for that week happened to be very upbeat and celebratory. The Saturday gathering before the game was energetic and a lot of fun. We all left in great spirits, ready to watch the Saints move one step closer to another Super Bowl. And then Vernon Davis in single coverage happened….and happened….and happened….and happened. And as soul-crushing as that was, it didn’t change the fact that we still had to get up and play the same upbeat set on Sunday, although considerable consideration was given to changing the set to the slowest, saddest-sounding songs we could find.

There was even a brief discussion about just throwing down our instruments and walking off stage if it became too much to bear, as well as the real possibility of breaking down into tears and starting a chorus of “WHY, GOD, WHY?!!” in the middle of the set. But, in the end, we put on brave faces, prayed for God’s presence, and soldiered on. Because, really, that’s all you can do. And that’s exactly what the Saints and the Who Dat Nation will do now. I mean, if we can put the worst natural disaster in U.S. history behind us, I don’t foresee this being a problem. So, until next time: Peace, love….and, as always, WHO DAT!!!

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