It is more of an exhaustion of
available choices leaving the only thing left to watch is K-9, Mr.
Destiny, About Last Night, and Taking Care of Business.
Porky-pigging while working is
I haven’t done this, because I still
have some dignity left. You know pants are optional for many working from
March is a write-off
I flipped the family calendar to April
on March 20th. I’m guessing I’ll be turning to May sometime this
When did everyone discover the fun
of being outdoors?
I think nothing of a cracking out a
solid 5 mile run when it is snowing. Now everyone is walking around like it is
summer time and clogging up my sidewalks.
Avoiding people has its advantages
No more idiots cutting you off in traffic, small stalk with acquaintances, or a need to dress to impress.
I tried isolating from isolating
The infighting in our house was so unmanageable, my youngest son and I pitched a tent in the backyard for a quiet night’s sleep in 28-degree weather.
My hair is getting long
I’m looking like a hippie. It hasn’t
been this long since I decided to try out the grunge look in high school-which
lasted all of six weeks. Maybe this time I’ll go for shoulder length hair
like Mark Wahlberg in the movie Rock Star. Plus, I’ll be saving gobs of
money on haircuts.
I’m sleeping more
With no commute, I’m sleeping an
extra 60-90 minutes a night leading me to believe I’ve been depriving myself of
sleep for 20+ years.
My wife and I have totally different versions of the ideal quarantine.
Me: “This wouldn’t be so bad without kids. The two of us with lots of wine and movies.”
My wife: “Oh I was thinking: Me, all alone, in silence, and lots of sleep.”
I would suck at Real World.
I’m trapped in my home with my best friend and three people I fathered and we are ready to kill each other. No way could I survive being confined in a house with fourteen strangers.
Before the virus I was a closet hoarder and didn’t know it.
As a guy who shops at Costco on a weekly basis, I was already warehousing food and supplies well before the virus hit, but I didn’t know I was a hoarder. Once the quarantine started, I realized we have enough food to carry us for at least three weeks before we dip into my 150 cans of sardines (which I bought the limit when they were on sale about two months ago).
People have way too much free time.
I now realize most of my time spent during the weekends before the lock down was busy work, and not really adding much to the overall betterment of my life. It was really an elaborate time suck masked as productivity. No one needs to go to Costco once a week.
Booze is a great crutch.
I went from drinking a bottle of wine a week before ’28 Days Later’ to two snifters of whisky a night.
We waste a lot of food.
Nothing says America like arranging leftovers in a Tupperware container for the next night’s dinner then throwing it out the following day, because you don’t have a taste for day-old meatloaf. Now we eat the leftovers, because martial law will be here any day and you need to conserve food like the rest of the world has done for years.
It takes a village (because your house is too small)
Our house is big enough for everyone in the family to have two rooms to themselves. Somehow we all end up in the same room yelling louder than the next person about who didn’t wash their hands.
There is a thing as too much news.
Two decades ago your only source of current events was the evening news. You only thought the world was ending once a day. Now I’m getting neck cramps as I re-read some internet article after doing the same google search, “Will coronavirus kill me?” multiple times a day.
All those things I said I would do if I could ever got the chance to be locked in my home are still not getting done.
Cleaning the garage, starting a book, and parting out a car for fun are going to have to wait for the next global shelter in place.
My kids really annoy me, but I probably annoy them more.
Special thanks to M.A. for writing our first guest blog post. Lord knows we are hungry for content here at Skiinginjeans, so thanks for stepping up M.A.
It starts before school even gets out for summer. You may be in the pick-up line for preschool, or waiting at the bus stop for your kids, but inevitably you will start to hear variations on the same theme. Namely, “what are you doing this summer?” While this may seem like an innocent enough question, just mom-to-mom small talk, the underlying gist, of course, is “where are you going (translation: how much are you spending) on vacation this summer?” and/or “what camps / enrichment activities are your kids enrolled in?”
While much could be said, and many a blog post have already sufficiently skewered, the myriad options for upper middleclass kids these days – from over -the-top sleepaway camps costing upwards of $10,000 per session, intensive sports training camps for kids (meaning, their parents) dreaming of being the next D1 recruit, or even local or town-subisdized day camps that offer impressive field trips, yoga sessions and sushi making classes, little attention has been paid to the phenomenon of what I call “vacationing en masse.” In other words, spending your vacation with all of the same people that you spend your day-to-day life with, often in a locale that really isn’t all that different from where you live. Up and down the East coast, from the suburbs of NY (including coastal CT), all the way to Boston, you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone who spends the majority of their summer in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. In the city (a/k/a Manhattan), it’s the Hamptons or bust. Sure, some will claim to be cooler or more lowkey by going to Block Island, Shelter Island, or Montauk (which is technically just the Hamptons, but further). Don’t be fooled: these are still just summer outposts of the same communities. And it’s not just an East Coast phenomenon; Midwesterners flock to their Michigan or Lake Geneva “cottages” (often more akin to mansions), southerners to the mountains of North Carolina or the beaches of South Carolina, and Californians, to Malibu. It’s getting away, without getting away. Which begs the question, why go at all?
Sure, all of these places are certainly vacation-worthy in a purely objective sense. They boast beautiful scenery, pristine beaches, gourmet restaurants, a multitude of activities for both the young and the not-so-young. However, when you consider paying an exorbitant premium for lodging (assuming you were fortuitous enough to book at least 9-12 months in advance), spending hours in gridlock traffic getting there (if, in the case of Nantucket or the Vineyard, you were smart enough to book your ferry well in advance; more on the particular travails of the ferry below), the horrific traffic once you are there, and getting shut out of the aforementioned gourmet restaurants due to the crowds, one starts to wonder what is the point of it all.
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Meet New People?
More than any of this though, the idea of spending precious summer weeks with the same friends and acquaintances you see daily during the other three seasons of the year is mind-boggling. Maybe it’s because the summer population of these East Coast locales consists largely of finance douches wearing Nantucket red shorts and their Lily Pulitzer clad wives and kids (most of whom are among the most obnoxious residents in my Fairfield County burb), but I cannot fathom the appeal of spending the summer, not to mention tons of money and aggravation, bumping into them left and right on a tiny, congested island or spit of land. During the summer months, my Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with posts by local acquaintances vacationing on Nantucket, featuring pictures of fellow acquaintances eating dinner together, having cocktails together, hanging at the beach together, getting coffee together, and well, you get the point. But I certainly don’t.
Ferries are Fun
In addition to the bizarre reluctance to congregate with anyone outside of their usual social and/or professional network or venture beyond the comfort zone of a preppy East Coast environment, Nantucket (and Martha’s Vineyard) summer residents also need to make sure they book their ferry reservation months in advance of their planned travel dates. Horror stories abound in my town of families whose kids do not make it home for the first day of school in late August or early September, because the ferries are all booked. They are literally stranded “on island” as they say. Or, you have booked and paid for your overpriced yet still mildewed-smelling and miniscule rental cottage well in advance (as most rentals will require), but you forgot to book your ferry six months in advance, so your lodging sits empty for a few nights while you wake up at 4 am several days in a row hoping to get on a ferry stand-by.
If this sounds like your dream vacation, you are not alone. In fact, if you live anywhere along the I-95 corridor in the NY tristate area, you will be surrounded by hordes of your neighbors and others exactly like you. Just be sure to pack your patience along with your Lily Pulitzer, crab-embroidered pants and Nantucket reds.
For the finishing touch, definitely leave your $150 “Oversand Vehicle Permit” on your car (or, even better, multiple years’ worth stacked on top of each other), so everyone in town knows where you’ve been.
Regret washed over me as I ventured through the front door of my old fraternity. It was recently rebuilt due to a multiple million-dollar, tax-deductible, alumni fundraiser. The result of the largest donation of my life was a complete disaster. A maze of rooms with names like ‘Stank’, ‘Pig’s Nest’, and ‘Icebox’ were replaced with long, sterile hallways and numbered doors. My brothers of the new generation sat in their rooms playing with their phones instead of congregating in the common areas and destroying each with verbal jabs. The few brothers who attempted a conversation with me were not impressed of my stories of throwing a couch engulfed in flames off the roof, three-story beer bongs, or firing road-killed squirrels from a balloon launcher at a rival fraternity on Mom’s weekend.
The new members were sensitive guys. They spoke of submission to the Greek governing body which sought banishment for drinking on the front porch. So much for doing a one arm keg stand on the lawn for nostalgia less I risk shutting down the pathetic shell of what was once a venerable landmark. They told me there was talk of the campus going dry next year, and the brothers were accepting of this hypocrisy. A college without booze is like high school, and everyone knows high school is as much fun as getting run over by a car. I couldn’t take the pain any longer. I drifted down the street lost in my thoughts of yesteryear.
As I wandered, I was almost run over by an Aston Martin DB11. I knew he was a student because when my head
was within inches of his car, I could read his license plate holder “STUDENT AT
UNIVERISTY OF…” As he sped off, he swore
at me in a tongue I didn’t understand
Lusting after the timeless classics of O and O’s, $1 U-Call-It’s, and Strong Island’s, I went to my other sanctuary in college:
“You’re really carding me?” I asked the backward hat wearing frat guy
as my grey, thinning hair identified me as relic from the past. As much as I used to despise cocky,
get-laid-all-the-time, guys in way cooler houses than mine, I was overjoyed to
find bouncers were of a timeless design.
“$5,” he demanded. Instinctively, I dropped the name ‘Steel’. He was the old general manager of this place in my glory days. Throwing cold water on sleeping bros, taping pledges to flagpoles, and placing cars in perilous situations on top of high porches were things Steel did in grade school. Steel was a college legend. Steel dominated college the way Wilt Chamberlain played basketball-by bagging ass.
Random hook ups for him were like maintaining a regular heart beat for the rest of us. One semester in the fraternity house we were short on beds. Rather than hot bunking or forcing a new member to sleep on the foyer couch, Steel jumped on the grenade- “I’ll just take a closet for some clothes. Forget the bed,” he announced. His plan was to test his mettle by hooking up with a random female every night, and in doing so, find a series of warm and adventurous beds to sleep in for the semester. Only once did I have to step over the kid on the front porch on a morning during finals week. I’m sure he earned some extra credit during his dalliances securing him an ‘A+’ in the toughest course in college.
I figured his name still had some pull given his legendary status as
the unofficial ambassador to College (note this is a capital ‘C’, like Church).
The drone at the door splayed his fingers in my face. I relented.
I paid the cover and then full price for a beer. Gen Zer’s are worse than millennials. Who can’t respect a solid name drop and a
willingness to sell reduced priced alcohol in exchange for an outsized tip?
‘Salt-N-Peppa’ blasted through the speakers, there was an inch of piss
and stale beer pooled on the floor, and an overserved kid puked in a garbage
can. The walls still had the same
paint. The only missing element was a
fog of cigarette smoking rendering the air unbreathable and requiring all
clothes be laundered the following day.
By all measures, I was back.
I looked for the ghosts of college past. Horse talking to any girl who would talk to
him. Chubby, at the bar, controlling his
piss shooter with his left hand while ordering test tube shots with his right
hand. His reasoning was sound, “the
bathroom was too far away and there was booze to drink.” Absent was Shotzy and his crew of pledges
holding up placards ranking women with an “8”, “9” or “10” as they walked past
their table. I recognized no one.
I attempted a lap. When I
reached the back of the bar, I was blockaded by wall which was new since the
last time I was there. The main bar had
been transformed from an island into a peninsula. I couldn’t complete the full circle. I was trapped. I stood and observed as I forced down my Bud
Tight fitting black bar pants were extinct as were jeans cresting low
enough to expose the top inch of a female’s butt crack. Instead, girls wore jeans with the belt line
near their navels insulating them from eye-groping dudes. Guys dressed no better. Most of them appeared to wear some type of
uniform for the entire semester; class, bar, dinner with the parents. It was a part of the “college guy outfit in a
bag”-get it when you buy your books for the semester, one size fits all. No returns.
A fear for the future of humanity swept over me as I stared into a sea
of asexual coeds. Guys talked to
guys. Girls talked to girls. There was no intermingling of the sexes. How were these young adults going to bang and
carry on the human race if they don’t converse?
I was witnessing youth in its purist form-perfect health, excess free
time, and a financial stipend from dad.
They were doing more than abusing the gift. They were blowing it.
I left the bar. I was more disassociated
with the modern collegiate experience than I had been at my most difficult
times when I attended the university.
The walk back to my hotel was filled with questions but lacking
resolution. Had my time passed? Maybe the college was having an off
weekend? Was I too sober? It couldn’t be me. When I went here, I was a manifestation of
College in the human form. Constantly
drunk, brotherhood, and chasing tail.
Today’s students failed to excel at these life skills. My legacy was left in the past.
I picked up the toothpaste my wife requested prior to my campus journey. The store clerk laughed and called me a “dotard”. It was nearly midnight when I snuck back into the hotel room and resumed my life as a middle-aged dude. Early morning soccer, never ending messes around the house, and learning of no one is stretched for time until they have kids.
The realization of I couldn’t go back finally took hold sending me into a sleepless night. My time had passed. I live for today which, in time, becomes a better yesterday. Steel will never be reminiscent. Steel went back, but he also never really left. He opened a conglomerate of bars in the southwest corner of the USA after graduating. There he pours ‘O and O’s‘ and canoes porn stars as you read this on your couch while half paying attention to Netflix, in your car on the way to work, or sitting on the toilet ignoring the screams of your kids fighting in the playroom.
I surrender. Next time my family needs a vacation, we will be at the local Holiday Inn using day passes for their pool while I ignite five grand in cash in the lobby fireplace. Any disappoint I feel from burning through the seed money for my kids’ college education will be more than offset by knowing that another magical Disney adventure has been postponed indefinitely. Why do I have such despise for the happiest place on earth? Allow me to recount my experience.
Upon entering Disney World on our first day, my daughter spiked a 101 fever. After hooking up the IV bag to the stroller so she could mainline Motrin, we pressed on. Damn the influenza. We didn’t travel 2,000 miles to sit in a hotel room. After resolving the fever situation, my son stood in front of the most magical castle in the world and whined that he wanted to go to the hotel pool because it had a waterfall. I explained we had only been in the park for five minutes and that Disney had Splash Mountain, a waterfall you could ride. His complaints persisted.
The park had not officially opened and my children were irritating me to the point where I questioned more pleasant situations such as being stranded at a North Korean airport, running out of oxygen in a sinking submarine, or undergoing anesthesia awareness during a major surgery. Yes, things could be better, and my optimism for the rest of the trip was starting to fade.
Being unfamiliar with the race to the rides after Mickey and his crew do their welcoming ceremony in front of the castle, we were nearly trampled like Who fans as seasoned Disney ticket holders surged when the gates opened. Joy turned to urgency, which transformed to panic, as parents rushed their children to move faster to be the first on the Seven Dwarfs’ Ride. Like refugees, fleeing their homeland for safer grounds, strollers were abandoned, crying children were left for security to be claimed later, and the practice of “women and children first” was disregarded. The rest of the day oscillated between chasing down Fastpass windows and suppressing my children’s vocalization of them hating on the Magic Kingdom, their family, waiting in line, and their legs hurting from walking.
I was not alone in my struggle. A random father told me “I want to get separated from my family. Then I’ll be happy.” Arguments, from what seemed like normally sane couples, erupted as we navigated the park. If I were to make one suggestion to the corporation, I would urge Disney to offer divorce kiosks throughout the park advertising “Get Divorced Here in Under 10 Minutes!” That business would be a boon to the bottom line. My marriage, approaching ten years of wedded bliss, has been through a lot, but nothing as trying as the asphalt labyrinth where an oversize rodent is king.
After two days of chicken nugget lunches, we took a day off. We stayed back at the hotel. The children laughed and swam in the pool. One of them voluntarily took a nap. My wife and I enjoyed a conversation without passive-aggressive undertones or an assumption of self-destructive behavior on the other’s part. We ordered pizza; compared to Walt’s prices, it felt like it was free. The kids went to bed at a normal hour. Life was good, until we realized we still had one more day of pixie dust and Dumbo rides ahead of us. We debated eating the cost of the tickets and driving over an hour each way to the ocean, but Disney’s invisible hand beckoned us.
On our third day, we were like downtrodden, weary soldiers going to battle long after the adrenaline had exhausted our systems. In the parking lot, we traversed to the yellow line to await our tram when a vision appeared before me. With a banging body dressed in butt-hugging Adidas warm-up pants and a white tank, a woman with red dyed hair broke the monotony of the vacation spawned from the underworld. I expected to see a vixen of this caliber flaunting her goods at the Spearmint Club in Las Vegas, not in the humid state where retirees go to die. I enjoyed the respite while ignoring my children open-hand slapping each other as they yelled insults in the key of excrement. I tuned out my wife’s nagging that we didn’t bring enough cash for the twenty fold marked-up light saber souvenirs.
The tram pulled up with the driver blaring, “You are in the Simba lot, remember this or be lost in our sea of 15,000 parked cars.” I hustled the stroller and our backpacks onto the tram when a voice exacerbated the drudge of my Disney week, “Simba? You guys hear that? Let’s do it guys!”
I begged for it not to be my Ariel inspired stripper. My head rotated to find my fantasy destroyed as she led her family of six in an acapella version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Even the dad got into the rolling baseline of the tune. I don’t know what was worse: that the family prepared their whole life for this performance or that I used to identify with that idyllic clan only days prior. I downgraded the woman, who I previously wanted to slather in dollar bills, to just another customer of the forced family fun machine.
My wife made eye contact with me as she mouthed, “It’s their first day”. Her deadpan comment united us again on a deeper level. It was the first time on Disney property when we connected in a meaningful way. Then reality set in that we still had to endure a final day in happy prison.
UPDATE (4/12/17): After Disney received this letter, I was contacted by a Jessica, a Disney rep, who was very attentive and discussed with me the finer points of my letter. She offered me 5, 3-day Disney tickets, free of charge, that do not expire until 2037. Initially I refused, but she insisted I take them in case I changed my mind about returning. Please keep in mind that Disney really does care about making its customers happy.