Archive for the ‘About my Father’ Category

If you ever want to feel good about yourself and your beliefs, you should call my father.  My dad and I agree on just about everything, but somehow, by the end of the phone call, we are yelling about how much we agree.  Take everything going on in politics right now.  I won’t even call my dad, because we would yell at each other for hours about everything.  I believe that whomever my dad is talking to as he gets amped up actually morphs into the people he is fed up with.  I so badly want to go on a tirade over politics, but I am certain that I would lose all ten loyal readers of this blog.  But isn’t that what writing is supposed to do, get people spun up and make them think even if they think that what I wrote is incorrect?

Recently, I handed in a writing assignment.  The assignment was to answer a question.  The question was the thesis of the paper then.  So, I answered the question, and then the teacher said there was no real thesis in the paper.  I told her that the question she handed out was the thesis.  She said that is not the way it works.  I told her I had the same degree she did.   I lost.  But, in my head, I won, and knowing is half the battle.

So, here is the thesis of this blog.  Lane Phillips, my father should be President of the United States.

I want my dad to be president.  I want to watch the news in the morning and see my old man walking down the hallway, out the doors, and then I want my old man to brief the press.  I want the press to piss my dad right off, and then I want to watch.  I want my scary, conservative father to stand up in front of a nation and fix the shit out it.   More specifically, I want the nation run like our house was.  My dad never takes more than four seconds to make a decision, and he is right every time.  He can take a square peg and make it fit into a round hole.  He can do it by scaring the square peg round.  There is no problem my dad cannot fix.  My dad uses three things to fix everything, and they are as follows:  New skin (that stuff you put on wounds to seal them), Quicken (the program you use to balance your checking account), and empty coffee cans (you would be surprised how much an empty coffee can will do during any situation you may find yourself in).

My dad understands economics better than any man I know.  He would use Quicken to balance the entire nation’s budget, and somehow, using the same program he would have money stashed everywhere so that he always had enough to get a bigger TV.  He would only borrow money from China on the “6 Months, Same As Cash” method, and he would always let China believe he wouldn’t pay in full on time, only to screw them over on the sixth month.  You see, my dad gets this weird sense of satisfaction from setting aside the monthly payment for six months, except the minimum required (which never gets the debt paid before interest hits) and then boom, he pays that shit off.  He has relayed to me on multiple occasions a fantasy he has where some pretentious accountant is crying when Best Buy receives his payment just before they were going to make a killing off of interest.  These are things a President dreams about.

My dad understands military tactics and how to employ our nation’s most powerful asset.  He was a member of the Navy for 20 plus years, and now continues to serve by playing first person shooter games.  He would be the only president in history that could explain to you how to correctly knife the enemy while simultaneously switching to your pistol and shooting him in the face.  He has also proven that, regardless of the age of the person he is playing online, he will drop an “F” bomb into his headset and remind the kid that wisdom will beat stupid and inexperienced youth every time.  I want my president to do that.

I have told you in previous blogs that my dad hates everybody equally.  This is a required trait for a president.  Hating everybody is essential to running a country where no one ever agrees.  Every American is the smartest person in the room when it comes to politics.  We all cannot believe how asinine the opposing opinions are.  Some of the most ignorant people I have ever known, during a politically charged conversation, suddenly develop opinions, and there is nothing worse than ignorant people who believe in something.  It’s usually based off of getting something for free, but whatever.

Religious values will not dominate my father’s campaign.  The family is the most important unit of America, and thusly, he would concentrate on the family’s role in government.  Religious values should be taught in the home and fostered and nurtured in the home.  My dad would concentrate on making families function better by fixing the economy with Quicken and giving America’s families freedom of movement.  Because my dad is brilliant, he would remind all of the fathers and mothers out there:

“Your kids should fear you.  Your kid should respect you.  Your kid is not your friend; do not be afraid to lay the smack down when your kid acts like an ass in public.  More importantly, do not let your kid just get by and don’t give him or her everything they want.  Don’t pretend that giving your children more opportunities than you had as a child means losing discipline and handing them everything.  Teach your child about losing, because they will lose.  They will lose something awful, and it will suck.  Teach them how to get back up, so that when they lose in real life, they don’t look to the government to take care of them.  Mothers and fathers have helped create an environment where entitlement trumps hard work and perseverance.”

My dad would not care who you love.  You love a tree, marry the damn thing—just don’t be a jackass, pay your debt, and quit looking to me to bail you out.  You love a man, marry the man, just don’t be a jackass, and pay your debt and quit looking to me to bail you out.  You want to be a religious whatever—do it, but don’t be a jackass, and pay your debt.  Jackassery leads to failure and failure just might be what you need to remind you that people lose in real life.  You’re gay, congratulations, get married, but for the love of god, be gay, fiscally responsible, and don’t be a jackass.  My dad would point out that the government is getting caught up on things that should be left to the individual.  The government should be working to give its citizens a stable platform in which to work and live.  Just as important, my dad would remind the individual citizen that relying on the government to save you from yourself and your own irresponsibility is futile.  The government doesn’t’ work that way, except recently.  Then my dad would kick in a door and make Harry Reid resign, and he would do it solely because Harry Reid sounds like an idiot.  My dad cannot stand people who sound like an idiot.  Idiots have no place in society.   He would also say that an empty chair would be a more effective president than some that have been elected.

The people that would suffer the most under the 8 year reign of my father are criminals.  Criminals deserve it.   Criminals are terrorists, and need to be treated as such.  I guess communists would suffer too, but they would be fiscally responsible while they are suffering, and probably more successful than they are used to.

Dad, I cannot wait to see your name in every front yard.  If you win, you will be my boss again….

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in for years.



News Flash:  Sitting outside, in the heat of the evening last night, I was drinking a beer with our neighbor RV’er.  Innocent as an angel, I was attacked by a yellow jacket.  In my three and a halfish decades of life, I have never been stung by a bee, wasp, or stingy type bug.  However, I was certain that if stung, I would handle it with grace and dignity that you expect from a man as ruggedly amazing as the writer of this blog is.  I learned some things about myself.  I am not going to lie, for years I have wondered whether or not I would be a screamer.  Last night may have shed some light on my reaction.

I call the neighbor, “Gentleman,” because he told me his name, but as usual, I was either too self obsessed to really listen to the man, or the trauma that ensued moments later also caused memory lapses.  Because I am not afraid to lay my faults out there for you, I need you to know that he told me his name three days ago, and I am a pathetic first acquaintance.  I am an awesome friend, but you have to earn a place in my memory.  Do you know what kind of things that I am storing in my head that would be forced out if I chose to remember everything?  I am clinging to things and memories like a hoarder of thought.  I know all of the words to the opening theme song of “Who’s the Boss,” and “Growing Pains.”  I can tell you the plot lines of every “Saved by the Bell.”  These are things I need to stay balanced, to stay a renaissance man.  If I couldn’t immediately recall the fact that Zach Morris, Slater, and Screech snuck out to a club called, The Attic, underage, I would never last in future conversations that demanded the instantaneous recall of information as important as this.

So, the Gentleman is sitting across from me and sharing his life with me.  A horse photographer, that had a stint in the Navy back in ‘Nam, and has had like 37 separate careers, the Gentleman is charming and has a “man’s man” appeal.  He offers up stories of the rich people that he caters to in the equestrian world and the day-to-day grind that the rich people deal with out there.  I felt sorry for the rich people and their “first world” problems.  I mean, these people have so much money that they cannot find happiness in it, and that is sad, because money and happiness to me are directly related.  I don’t care what anybody who is reading this says; money is awesome!  When you have money, sure it can bring problems, but it can also buy awesomeness like unlimited Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Or, you can fill your gas tank all the way up instead of putting in 30 dollars and then just driving slowly with your windows down and the a/c off.  Money may not directly buy happiness, but it buys a lot of things that rock!

So, the Gentleman is sitting across from me.  I look down to my left ring finger and yellow jacket that has decided to land there and chill.  Because I always react with calm, cool, and collected emotions, you can expect that what followed would be nothing short of manly….

Here is what ensued.

I cannot recall if the yellow jacket was already stinging me, or that I am such a dancing nancy, that I just plain went crazy upon sighting this monster of the stinging bug world and jerked forward.  Because I was in this reclined chair, my jerk caused a flopping motion that I assume appeared as if I was electrocuted.  Because I had a beer in my right hand, I could not immediately swoosh this killer off of me.  Because, there was another man in front of me, I didn’t throw the full beer ten feet away from me and scream a string of five obscenities and three unintelligible ramblings, or did I?  Because, I can tolerate an insane amount of pain, I didn’t grip my ring finger like it may or may not have been there when I reached down, and then look astonishingly at the Gentleman when I found the finger to still be there, or did I?  Because I am my father’s son, maybe I not only killed the yellow jacket, but I sent it straight to hell with black magic words and tantrums and some form of rain dance.

As I gathered myself, I looked up at the Gentleman.  In his eyes, there was this look that I’ve seen before and could not mistake.  I have seen this look once when I was a kid and my father tried to kill me by cooking dinner using a hot skillet to fry pork chops.  I know….what a dick. I reached up and grabbed the skillet and burned my arm, I winced and cried, and then, when I looked to father for reassurance, he just said, “what were you expecting to happen there?”

That is the look I saw in the man’s eyes, except what he said was, “You know, you need to try and think through the pain….”  When another man gives you advice about dealing with pain, you have been dominated; you are no longer in any form, the alpha; you need to haze yourself.  So, I went inside the trailer and looked at my pregnant wife, who was sitting in the 64 degree temperatures looking as if she just ran a marathon, sweating, pounding water, and breathing erratically.  I informed her that I was nearly killed by a leviathan sized yellow jacket.  There in all her pregnancy, and knowing that in only two months time, she would force a baby out of her uterus and into the free world, through a canal not normally used to pass an object of this proportion, in a violent, scream filled moment where skin tears, and lesser men will pass out, Whitney will make the final push to creating life, completing the female’s punishment for eating the apple years and years ago of torturous labor pain.  Knowing all of this, I looked her in the eyes, grabbed a bag of frozen peas, put pressure on my fresh wound, gritted my teeth, and in pain wrought words I uttered the following, “You will never know pain like I have felt tonight….”

I just wanted you to know, because I have been sitting here in pain for nine hours…

Two and three quarter days into my three day trek from Pensacola, Florida to Fredericksburg, Virginia, the phone rings in my truck.  Directly to my front, I can see my future.  Dark storm clouds are billowing towards my caravan pushing their way around the buildings of downtown Richmond.  My caravan, a motley crew, made up of a truck whose occupants include a handsome driver named, me, and two heavily sedated dogs, as their travel anxiety causes driver anxiety.  Following the truck, is a car whose occupants include a seven month pregnant woman, her swollen feet, which the pregnant woman contests are their own entity in themselves now, and behind her, in the rear passenger side seat, a three-legged Chihuahua sits shaking, because that’s what three-legged Chihuahuas do.  I am going to get to the phone call trust me.  Just not yet.  I want you to sit there and wonder why I would start this blog off by alluding to a phone call near the end of the journey and not the beginning of the three day drive that tested every facet of my being, from the fibers of my marriage to my ability to handle stress while manipulating a trailer through horrifying situations.

Trucks.  Huge trucks.  Huge trucks everywhere.  They growl like monsters.  They roar when they pass me, and the inhalation leading up to said roar sucks the trailer I am desperately trying to keep behind me towards them.  For split seconds every time I am passed by these beasts of the roadway I lose control of my train.  I feel it; my stomach feels it, and behind me, my pregnant wife has decided at these moments she should text me, the following, “Honey, are you okay, just checking cuz you’re swerving into the trucks…” 

I don’t know why but I have always felt like truck drivers are intimidating.  I feel the same way I would when I drive around them that I would if I was playing a pickup game of basketball with Michael Jordan—that being, completely out of my league.  I do this thing when they pass me to let them know I think they are cool.  One quick off and on of my brights to say to them, “you are past me, please feel free to come back over into this lane.”  They love me for this.  Sometimes they blink their taillights at me in an expression of gratitude.  I act like the kid who is trying as hard as he can to be part of the “in-crowd.”  At gas stations, I go out of my way to say hello them while standing in front of my trailer, my “beast of the roadway” leaning in the coolest pose I can muster.  I see them in the restrooms of the truck stops we frequent along our route and I probably spend too much time watching their mannerisms.  Once, Pregnant Whitney and I pulled into a gas station and walked in front of about five big rigs filling up their tanks.  I proudly escorted my pregnoid wife from their right to left and for just one awesome instance, I thought, “yeah, this is my lot lizard—I knocked her up.”  I was so proud at that moment.  Seconds later, Whitney did this weird pregnant leap, which actually means she stepped an inch farther than comfort would normally allow.  She lets out an odd whimper and then immediately stops, looks down and pulls the dog away from something that is unbelievably tantalizing.  Moments earlier, I had pulled a chicken bone from the dog that she had found on the side of the lot, so I assumed it was something similar.  Wrong.  There laying in all its awesomeness was a freshly used condom….My trucker brothers had been busy on this very piece of land…..I wanted to take a picture for my scrap booking….

As the trip begins, I can tell that my truck is in an uphill battle against the trailer.  My first acceleration to 65 mph took five minutes and I could watch as the gas gauge fell.  I looked up to the monitor that lets me know the fuel economy: 7 MPG.  Excellent, this was a good decision.  As the trip would wind up, I filled up my tank every 150 miles…..this is not bragging.  My wife filled her car up twice.  Excellent, this was a good decision.  I keep noting that the trailer is riding awfully.  Lurching forward, and pulling the truck downward in such a sharp motion, I thought that it was bad.  At the first stop, my wife, who is pregnant and has extensive knowledge of pulling a trailer or at least in her head she does, points out that the trailer is probably connected incorrectly; I ignore her opinion…remember the phone call…

Day two, my wife pulls out from behind me on the road and snaps a picture of my truck pulling the trailer.  She posts it to FB with a statement worshipping her ruggedly handsome husband pulling the trailer like a professional.  Comments pour in rooting us on as we struggle down Interstate 95.  My father was noticeably absent in my travels.  Not a word, a comment about how proud he is of his manly son who, like him, now pulls a trailer down the highway.  This could have been a connecting moment in our lives.  Maybe it could have been that moment in the father-son relationship where he thinks, “My boy has become a man.”   Nope, nothing, silence.  Our convoy continues northbound.

At some point on the evening of the second travel day, Fred Flintstone had entered my wife’s car and exchanged his feet with hers.  Initially, I was in such a hurry to fill up my tank and get back on the road that I didn’t notice what had progressed from knee down to my pregnant companion on this hellish journey.  Something happened.  It looked as if a balloon artist that worked at amusement parks constructed her legs out of those condom shaped balloons in such a manner that no distinguishable difference existed in the circumference of her legs from knee down.  At the bottom of her leg, where normal people have feet, were five round little balloons extending outward as if the balloon artist had adapted toes by twisting the balloons.  Couple this with her new walking style, and I now had a pregnant wife who looked like she was walking on wooden clubs with nubs for toes.  Cute as can be, but nevertheless, she was walking on wooden clubs.  Somewhere, Fred Flintstone was gallivanting around with Dino on a pair of normal human sexy feet, while my wife was a prisoner to wooden club legs adorned with Fred Flintstone feet. 

The storm clouds continued pummeling the scenery and at any moment, I knew I would be pulling my trailer through unknown roadways in a torrential downpour.  My phone rings and I look to see who would call me at this moment.  Had someone sensed my stress?  Had God shined down upon me with some voice that could calm my nerves?  It was my father.  I hastily answered waiting for the words from his mouth of recognition of my trailer pulling prowess.  My dad started talking, at first bantering about being on the road, but quickly, cutting to the chase.  The following exchange occurred two and three quarter days into my three day journey from Pensacola, Florida to Fredericksburg, Virginia:

Dad:  Son, I saw the picture Whitney posted of you pulling the trailer on Facebook.

Heath:  Yeah? (Said in a manner that knew the following words would be a moment I could not forget).

Dad:  Whitney got a good picture of the moment.

Heath: Yeah?  (Said in a manner that knew the following words would be a moment I could not forget).

Dad:  Two things.

Heath:  Yeah?  (Said in a manner that knew the following words would be a moment I could not forget).

Dad:  Your truck is too small, and the trailer is hooked up wrong…..

I immediately flashed back to when Whitney first pointed it out…I can’t stand it when she is right about things I ignored the first time she said it…..whatever.  So, I sit here in Fredericksburg, Virginia proof that you don’t have to do things right to get them done…  I sit here in the freezing catacombs of my trailer with my three dogs who all want dog mittens to keep their dog paws from freezing.  My wife sits across from me wearing summer gear wiping the sweat from her pregnant brow.  Excellent, this was a great idea….  

More to come…..

I have spent the last few blogs documenting some of my father’s abilities. I am not going to come back to you now and tell you that those things were not necessarily the truth about the big guy, because they are absolutes. Actually, if he were to come here and tell you, he would admit that the things I am writing about him are points of pride for him. Not only this, but I also think he is surprised I came out of my childhood able to put together groupings of words that form readable sentences. Somewhere in Albuquerque, NM, the man is sitting at the table remembering the days when I was right there to torture, and on his face is that little smirking smile of nostalgic satisfaction.

He is everything I have described from the earliest blog where I talk about his driving issues, to the last blog where I, to your horror, at least the 15 of you who read it, exposed the “television to my cranium” incident of 1984ish where my dad let it slip that on the level of importance list, his son falls somewhere below a 1970s television. Of note, the television still sits on Lane Andrew Phillips’ shelf at home as a constant reminder of an unfinished job.

Born in 1950, and the son of a Sailor, my dad is as old school as they come. Some things he does deviate from a complete stereotype, but they speak more to his reckless disregard for society’s expectations. For instance, the man cannot stop wearing socks with sandals. I think worse still, the man wears ugly sandals that no one wears. Even the company that makes the sandals hates them; they feel guilty about selling them. If you bring up to him his cheesiness, he will remind you that the problem is not him, the problem is people caring about what other people think about them. The problem is that people get so caught up in nonsense that sandals have somehow become an issue that says more about a person than the fact that the person has a 9 to 5 job and can pay all of his bills. Lane Phillips would look you in the eye and tell you that you are petty and weak. He would tell you that the second you can shed your desire to be accepted by the cool people, you’ll be free. On Father’s Day, I offer up to you ten facts about my dad.

1. Not a huge hugger. On the rare occasion we do hug, I have seen him sneak away to wash the hug off of him.

2. He has used his pinky finger and spit to clean my face off before a family picture. During this occasion, I got the distinct feeling he cleaned my face off quickly, but was actually trying to rub the skin off of my face.

3. He lives by a code, and one of the points of his code is never to trust a child. I have seen him break this rule once and it cost him dearly. He asked his son, me, to put a truck into neutral so he could use his motorcycle to pull the truck up a driveway. He said to his son, “Do you know what neutral is? Son, this is a very important question, because the truck will not move if it is in gear, and then I risk the possibility of causing damage to the motorcycle. . You do! Great, when I tell you to, put the truck in neutral and let me know when it is ready.” 500 dollars later and a new clutch for his motorcycle, and the cat was out of the bag; I had no clue what neutral was. I just got in the truck and jiggled some stuff, but definitely did not put it into neutral. Ooops, my bad.

4. He has weak thumbs and cannot hear out of one of his ears. That being said, he could still kick my ass in a fight.

5. Very involved in his son’s high school extracurricular activities. On one occasion, Lane Phillips came home from work and asked his son how track practice was. When his son brought up the fact that he did not participate in, nor would he ever run track, Lane Phillips mumbled something like, “that’s because you are weak and walked out of the kitchen.” It was the thought that counts.

6. My father actively hates, has hated, or will soon hate everyone he comes into contact with.

7. Unforgivable sins to my father in order from most unforgiveable down:

a. Wearing a baseball cap backwards. If his son were to come home after breaking curfew, escorted by the police and in cuffs, and had his hat on backwards, he would be yelled at for the hat being on backwards. In his mind, catchers are the only human beings allowed to wear their hat backwards, and oddly enough, if you played catcher, you could wear your hat backwards when dressed in everyday clothing. I think he does this so that if he is ever throwing together a pick-up game of baseball, he doesn’t have to ask a lot of questions. He can just grab the first guy who wanders by with a backwards cap on. It is much simpler this way.

b. Communism

c. Crying over physical pain.

d. Disagreeing with him regardless of topic, issue, or actual correctness

8. Lane Phillips will only stop on road trips at Denny’s. If he is ever forced to eat outside of his comfort zone, he will order fried shrimp. If he had a chance to give one and only one piece of advice to the world, it would be, “stick with fried shrimp, you can’t go wrong there.”

9. Lane Phillips does not like to be in places where there is even a small probability that he will have to be around other people. People annoy my dad. People are the worst invention ever.

10. Lane Phillips believes that all kids are inherently evil and should be treated as such. All kids want to ruin your life; they are plotting to right now. . If he had a chance to give one and only one piece of advice to the world, it would be, “Kids are great to have around as long as you remember they are trying to destroy you inside and out. Economically, spiritually, physically.”

All of these facts aren’t saying that he isn’t a great father, because the dude is amazeballs. I love him, but it makes me feel icky to tell him, but that’s his fault, right? So instead of calling him and saying something mushy, that would make him continue to question his decision not to finish the job the television started, I wrote these facts. I wrote these facts because I love him…and I’ve said it before, I am definitely my father’s son.

I just wanted you to know because I have been holding it in for years.

This is now actually part two of three.  If you haven’t read part one click here it will give you some context, plus it will give me more readership on that blog, which in turn, will make me feel better about myself. 

4.       I have been threatened and subsequently nearly killed over one US dollar.  I wanted to keep this on the subject of my father because I can do whatever I want to.  If I wanted to reference Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I can.  Like, for example, do you remember the song, “I got the golden ticket, I got the golden ticket….” 

      Okay, so my father… I think your initial reaction should be to feel sorry for me for my life spent with such a scary tyrant of a dad.  However, I bet that by the time you’re done reading this, you will wish that you could get in line to help him beat my ass. 

      Long story short.  I had pretty much recovered from the candy bar fiasco and was back to some semblance of normalcy.  It was summertime and around our house, we had this really cool Tupperware container for holding Kool-Aid.  As a matter of fact, I first developed my fondness for Tupperware because of my childhood Tupperware collection, which included this container.  This container was used so much by us that it actually had permanent stained Kool-Aid marks on the sides.  It featured a sliding top that let you pour Kool-Aid through a strainer like opening or a full wide mouth opening.  The top fit snugly down inside the bigger, bottom piece.  As a fourth grader, I was curious about things, but didn’t have the background in physics, nor did I possess the common sense required to avoid the seemingly, easily avoidable.  (Whitney has proposed to me recently, that not only did I never have common sense, but I also failed to ever find any…) 

      So in this situation, I thought that the container top fit so snugly inside of the bottom that it could actually withstand the weight of the Kool-Aid and would remain closed if I tipped it upside down.  Unfortunately, what I hypothesized (that the container lid would stay nestled into the bigger bottom portion even when forced to hold the added liquid’s weight) was incorrect.  However, learning did occur.  This science experiment taught me about potential energy and kinetic energy, one of Newton’s Laws, and about how sugar reacts to linoleum flooring.  To be clear here: The Tupperware container’s lid did not support the weight of Rock-o-dile Red Kool-Aid.  The experiment further illuminated that Rock-o-dile Red Kool-Aid spreads across a kitchen like oil does on water.  To be clear here:  One gallon of Rock-o-dile Red Kool-Aid has the ability to cover at 12 square feet of kitchen surface area.  In full on panic mode (see yesterday’s blog on my father as Satan), I grabbed the roll of paper towels and just started unrolling them onto the mess on the floor, counters, crevices of the stove top, under the fridge, everywhere.  I must have used two rolls just to soak up the Kool-Aid.  I felt like I had averted near disaster, and best of all my dad hadn’t happened upon me during the science experiment.  I was going to walk away from this unscathed.  I threw the soaked towels away, and walked away with satisfaction over my new found knowledge of science. 

      Hours later I heard yelling, and like a dog that had forgotten all about their earlier transgressions that walked right up to his owner when he discovered urine on the carpet, I wandered right to the point of the yelling hoping to see my sisters getting skinned alive.  Instead, what I saw next looked like the scene of a crime.  Red paper towels everywhere; did my dad actually just skin my sisters alive?  Not only that, but everywhere he walked his shoes were making this weird sticking sound like he was walking on glue.  I quickly saw that what was going on in the kitchen was somehow coming back on me.  I tried to slink into the background, but he saw it my eyes……fear. 

      I remember being held against a wall; I remember my dad’s voice; I remember that his index finger bounced off of my nose on every syllable as he repeated the following phrase over and over and over, “DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH A ROLL OF PAPER TOWELS COSTS, THEY COST A DOLLAR!!!!!”   I woke up seven days later with no recollection of the events that ensued after being pressed against the wall.

5.       I was nearly killed by a falling 32 inch television set.  This was in the 80s, so you know that the set weighed at least 70 Lbs.  To be clear here:  The set was probably built in the 70s, so you know that the TV weighed at least 100 Lbs.  More specifically, the TV didn’t even have a remote, so kids were often used as little remote controls.  But, in our house, my dad, who I have mentioned before as being wary of children, would not allow kids to touch anything.  Kids carried “magic sticky” and everything kids touched was contaminated and broken. 

      My dad cherished the television.  It was his baby.  We kids were there because my mom loved us and convinced my dad that we were worth keeping around; I am sure that she pointed out our potential for slave labor when we were older and stronger.   Out of protection for the TV, my dad placed it high atop a set of shelves to keep kids from ruining everything he worked so hard to get.  The problem with shelves, though, is that they form a ladder.  Being left alone to watch TV, I decided that I wanted to watch The Dukes of Hazard and see what trouble Bo and Luke were up to in Hazard County. 

      I began the climb to the top of the shelf.  The shelving, I shit you not, was like 15 feet high, and I expertly negotiated every shelf.  As I reached up for the TV, I made a couple of bad decisions.  As a child, I was curious about things, but didn’t have the background in physics, nor did I possess the common sense required to avoid the seemingly, easily avoidable.  (Whitney has proposed to me recently, that not only did I never have common sense, but I also failed to ever find any…)  I failed to understand gravity’s effect on human beings and televisions.  And I think more importantly than this, I failed to understand the distribution of weight across an object that extends vertically from the ground, more specifically, that the vertical object cannot have its heaviest point be off center and higher than midpoint, or else, said vertical object will tip over in the direction the heaviest point is pulling it.  (See Figure 1.1) 

  Figure 1.1, this photo is my personal property.  I spent hours drawing it 

      Needless to say, I reach for the TV and this movement sets in motion a horrible sequence of events that tells you my entire childhood in a nutshell.  Everything starts to fall.  I cling to the TV and pull it with me.  Halfway down I am now holding the TV pressed firmly against my head, at this point all of the lessons I needed to learn were learned, but unfortunately, there was no stopping this from happening.  I was falling, and this 80s TV was going to smash my skull in, and I looked death in the eye, and I screamed like a bitch.  When I landed, my head cushioned the blow for the TV, but I swear this is what I heard in the surround: 

Mom:  Oh my god, my son, he’s dead…..he’s dead, I know it.


Stay tuned to part three where I will do what I originally said I would do during this blog. I will finish my last two personal tidbits of information and recommend some terrific reading.    

An Award for Versatility in Blogging…. Part One 

If it weren’t for Lisa’s Rant, I would never win any awards, but I am cool with that because she is a cool chick.  Cool chicks can give me awards anytime.  Because she continues to pull me along on her voyage to the top of the blog world, I will continue to write, and I am glad to be considered worth reading by Lisa.  So, what are the requirements for this award you ask?  Well I am going to tell you seven things that you may not know about me and then recommend a bunch of blogs worth reading, but all of this will happen in two parts.  These are three of the seven things will change your life, or in the least, they will give you a new found appreciation for me, or not.

1.  I got caught stealing a Caramello from a local grocery store in Idaho Falls, Id.  This is kind of boring, right?  Well let me add some context.  I was in 4th grade and the next day of class was  going to be reading all day and lounging around.  We were allowed to bring snacks, and if there is one thing I love, it is snacks.  My mother dropped a friend and myself off at the entrance to the store and then she was going to circle until we were done buying a soda and a pack of chips.  Well let me tell you something, a soda and a pack of chips does not suffice for a day of reading and lounging.  I wanted a damn Caramello, and I was willing to pillage a store for it.  Plus, it was the 80s, how good could security be at a grocery store in Idaho Falls in the 1980s?  PLUS CARAMELLO’s ARE WORTH IT, so stop judging me! 

So, I put the candy bar in my pocket and exited the store.  At this moment a mustached worker of the joint ambushed me with questions about having something that doesn’t belong to me.  I did what any self respecting boy would do, and just broke down crying.  Crying like a bitch.  As planned, my mom pulled back up and rolled her window down intrigued by this man accosting her innocent child.  While the mustached man explained, I continued crying.  My friend’s reaction was one of pure stoicism.  But, he was a career criminal after that instance, so he doesn’t count against me as a man.  I thought for sure that my mother would rescue me and take me home; sure, I would be punished, but get me home where I can run off into the safety of my room.  Instead, the following words fell out her emotionless mouth.  “Take him to jail with the rest of the thieves.”  I did what any crying boy would do.  I looked at my mother, this Judas, and thought, “this woman is serious as shit right now.”  She was so serious that the mustached man had to talk her into taking me home so that he didn’t have to do additional work. 

People, this is the last time I stole anything—mostly out of fear that my mother would seek further retribution on my ginger ass.  I am still not allowed in the Buttrey’s located just off 1st Street and South Fanning Blvd in Idaho Falls, Id.  Right now, somewhere in the Idaho, a mustached man walks the aisles of a grocery store keeping the place a bit safer.  Kudos to you mustached security guard.

2.  I have been threatened by a man with a hot iron before.  Sounds kind of boring right?  Well let me add some context.  Long story short, but I had just been caught stealing a candy bar from a local grocery store in Idaho Falls, Id.  After my Judas of a mother (who I love more for it) was finally talked into taking me home vice a stay in the local juvenile hall, I was presented in front of the scariest judge and jury known to all of mankind, Lane Andrew Phillips, my father and my worst nightmare.  You see, I grew up in a family where, “Wait till your father get’s home” were the six words that could cause an immediate ulcer.   When I hurt my sisters, I would beg to the point of payment that my sisters not tell my dad.  More over, it was rumored around our house that our father had skinned children to death just by cussing at them until their skin just fell off. 

There is no real way to describe my dad except that he is comparable to the leader of hell.  Standing there before me, he may as well have been Satan; the only difference is that Satan is timid and weak in comparison to Lane Andrew Phillips.  My mom kind of just forced me in front of him and then she quickly vanished into the catacombs of the house.  I looked back once and saw her peering over a dark rock amidst my siblings, who had claimed front row seats for my slaying.  I just sniffled and murmured.  I am certain I blew a snot bubble out of my nose and drew asthmatic breaths while viscous liquids hung from my face in long strings.  My father was facing away from me ironing his uniform, but since he feeds off of little children’s fear, and I was scared shitless, he sensed I was broken and turned slowly in the most diabolically foreboding 180 degree turn.  The iron blew smoke out of the holes on the bottom and hissed at me.  Flames shot out of my dad’s fingers.  I had resigned to the fact that after this moment, my face was going to have the tell-tale iron burn starting from just above my right eye down to my lower left jaw area.   I closed my eyes, I went internal.  I watched my dad’s mouth move and heard nothing.  The iron was flailing to and fro.  All I heard was my own heart beating, thump, thump….thump, thump.  I woke up seven days later, no burn, no nothing.   None of my family members have told me what happened during the seven days following The Hot Iron Incident of 1986. 

3.  I have gone to a restaurant with my parents and been forced to eat bread and water while sitting in the corner.  Sounds kind of boring right?  Well let me add some context.  Long story short, but I had just recovered from a near-death situation where I was threatened with a hot iron.   I was in the initial stages of serving a life sentence of restriction at home.  I was permanently grounded.  Here’s how it worked.  I was actually allowed outside, but only to the end of the driveway.  This is my dad at his best.  I could go to the end of the driveway, but no one could play with me in the driveway and I couldn’t play with those out of the driveway.  In essence, it was my dad’s way of making me wish for freedom even more.  It was also my little version of a Scarlet Letter.  Kids would whisper about the poor kid, who they heard pissed himself when threatened with an iron, that couldn’t leave his driveway.  To this day when I visit, I am stuck in my parent’s driveway. 

Anyway, my parents didn’t trust me at home anymore and they had a dinner date with another couple.  I got to go with them.  We loved eating out when we were kids because it happened very infrequently.  I thought I won the lottery, and shit, if stealing got me restaurant dinners, I was ready to go for broke.  We got to the eating establishment and my parents met their friends.  They were laughing and everyone was very joyful.  The foursome and I made our way to the hostess for seating.  When we got there here is the exchange that happened.   

Hostess:  Good evening!  Is it just five of you tonight? 

Lane Andrew Phillips:  No, it is four of us.  The fifth one here is my son, of whom I am ashamed.  He is a thief and cannot be trusted.  He cannot be at home with his sisters alone, because he is half a man.  He will sit at his own table where I can watch him.  He will eat bread and water.  Please do not leave anything you want to see remain in your restaurant on the table where you seat him, because he will likely steal it.   

Hostess:  I have just the table. 

This really happened.  I do not lie, cheat, or steal anymore.  Trust me, I work for the government, I wouldn’t lie to you.   

Stay tuned to tomorrow’s post where I will finish this up and recommend six or seven blogs to read that are far better than the one you just read.  If you read this and regret it so far, you have Lisa’s Rant to thank…  

I have a degree in English, but it is a track of English that centered itself on 17th Century Literature.  This means that almost all of my English electives were spent in Shakespeare, Milton, or survey courses of the great writers of the era.  It was an awesome time and I really got to know some great professors.  However, I do not write this to brag, I write this to tell you what it qualifies me to do.  After receiving this four-year degree, I left college with great confidence that I could either be a waiter or an officer in the Marine Corps; I chose the latter.  Luckily, my wife has a degree in History, so our combined potential for success as is measured by monetary value is nil; this is not how I gauge success, however. 

You see the cool thing about a bachelor’s degree in general is that they are almost worthless.  Now couple that with it being a bachelor of liberal arts and you have your own license to irrelevance.  This is not to say that I don’t love my education, because I do.  It has given me a unique ability to smugly reference mundane quotes from the lesser read Shakespeare plays or sonnets.  Also, it has allowed me a certain pretentious ere of self righteousness when I say things to smarter people than me. 

I remember when I told my father what I was going to major in.  He, being a supportive and always positive individual, was quick to explain to me that I was “wasting my time,” and he continued with, “but that fact alone isn’t too surprising.”  That’s as close as you get to “I like it” from my Pops.  Well with all of the graduations, there are equally great commencement speeches.  It had me thinking about my dad’s comments to me on life and education.  I believe graduates of today are getting the shaft because they didn’t get to hear a commencement speech from my father.  So I offer it to you.  Pass it along to any you know getting ready to start life after school.  This is what I imagine it would be like if he were given the opportunity to speak.

Kids.  And I intentionally call you kids, because that is what you are to me; you are children.  It is not meant to insult you or make you feel inferior to me, albeit you are young and uneducated on the hardships of life, it is meant to let you see who you are.  You are children.  What makes you this, you ask?  Children all have one motivation.  It pervades everything they do.  Initially, it is not a bad thing.  We, as parents play on it so that we can solicit good behavior through incentive based training.  It is simple; children all seek the most immediately gratifying route—what is the most rewarding course of action with the least work and time required to reap the reward.  Those of you who shed this first will be productive.  Those of you who don’t, will not.  I don’t care if you believe me or not.  I expect you won’t, because you are children and you know everything.  For years my own children have relayed one important lesson to me:  given advice from a man like me, mature, aged, learned in the ways of hardship, struggle and adversity, you will discount the advice as jaded cynicism.  Fine, you are children and you are unbridled in your foolishness, I accept that. 

You’re here today to get your degrees and run off into the real world, but you wanted advice, right?  You asked me to be here.  Don’t just sit there, I asked you a question, but don’t speak into my left ear, I can’t hear shit out of it.  Well I already alluded to everything you need to know.  You want to pursue your dreams, great, go do it.  I am not here to kill your desires.  I am here to say one thing and that is, BE PRODUCTIVE MEMBERS IN SOCIETY.  Do your best to not leech off of others’ production.  I know you are all a bunch of liberals and that you are borderline communists.  Fine, I accept that, you are young and unbridled in your foolishness, but please remember this.  Even communism relies on the productivity of its citizens to succeed.  For a communist society to have any lasting power, every member must contribute in some way, shape, or form.  While you kids hide behind communism as a way to prop yourselves up, you’re missing the point.  Run from the idea that the world owes you something, because the world has a weird way of kicking you right in the ass while you wait.  I have given my son the same advice since he was old enough to piss me off, and here it is.  “Get a haircut and find a job.” 

I have raised productive kids; none of them are rich, but they are productive.  I don’t believe any of them feel like I shattered their dreams, but the fact is, none of them call me for money.  They have homes and families and kids and all of things that matter.  If you ask me why they are successful I would tell you that it started when they stopped whining and started doing.  They became productive.  I didn’t raise robots.  My youngest daughter is an insane liberal, but she is a productive and insane liberal.  My middle daughter writes romance novels about gay men, and I have read them and they are great.  She is not rich, but she is productive.  My son somehow developed a backbone and some balls and became a Marine….so far, so good.   They married productive people—people who all do great things with great attitudes.  They are not perfect, they are productive.

And here is another secret.  Don’t stop being productive.  You get older, your bones hurt and you want to stop.  I promise you this:  when you stop producing, you will stop living.  So, go on.  Get out of here.  Go and do.  Don’t waste your time standing around here, leave!   If you want to be a socialist, great, go be productive while doing it.  Remember that sometimes we do what we have to do, so that one day, we can do what we want.  The road we want sometimes doesn’t marry up with the road we have to travel.  Suck it up, be a man, get a haircut, and find a job…I just want you to know this, because I have been holding it in for years….