Archive for October, 2014

This tale starts where most of my tales do…

I’m standing at the clubhouse bar, doing my best to defuse two potentially explosive situations. All I wanted was a cold beer for me and a soft drink for my son. We were making the turn at our favorite golf course on a glorious fall day. We are both being punished by said golf course, and yet, we are both happy – because it’s golf.

Fuse #1 – As my son and I walk up to the bar, the heartbreakingly young, (compared to me) wholesomely pretty, and tragically confused bartender has just lit up like a neon sign at a New Orleans strip joint. She has by-passed all the other patrons to serve your storyteller. I have experience with this, I know exactly what’s going on – been dealing with it most of my adult life.

I have great golf clothes, the pieces coordinate and complement each other… and I iron them before I play. Chicks dig that – especially those late twenty-something chicks. As these young ladies approach marrying age, seeing a man with a well starched crease on his pants is almost the same thing as seeing one carrying a diaper bag. It screams domestication, attention to detail, and a well-managed financial portfolio. Our bartender just realized that she’s not looking at a guy, or a dude, she’s looking at a man.

I could have sworn I heard her softly say to one of the waitresses as she looked our way, “Please don’t let him be married…” Poor kid. Of course I am…all the good ones are. We’ll get back to our bartender…

Fuse # 2

“Keep the change”, I say as my barkeep and I settle the official part of this complex transaction. Playing coy, she pretends not to notice my generosity and shifts her stare from me to the direction of my son and smiles sweetly at him as she slowly pulls a lock of her mahogany hair behind her ear. I call this this “hormone dancing”. As her little dance is ending, a friend of a friend catches me as my son and I turn to the door.

“Large Man, how you doin’?” extending a hand to me. “Hey there, Little Large Man,” directed at my son, “Playing a round with your dad today?”
“Hi, Rick. How are you? How you hittin’ em today?” I replied with a little restraint, and the assumption he was playing.

Rick is an okay guy – as far as I know, he doesn’t rob elderly people or molest farm animals. I would describe him as a person who takes a lot of vitamin I. Most people will ask, “How you doin’” because they want to know how you’re doing. Rick asks you so he can tell you how he’s doing. His question isn’t really a question, it’s just rhetorical means to move you into a discussion about his latest situation. Quite often, as you start to reply to his segue, he’ll whip out his phone and check his texts or Instagram until you finish speaking. Your human value can feel diminished in the presence of Rick and his smart phone.

Rick replies, “Are you kidding, dude? I don’t get to play golf anymore. I have a 6 month old and a 20 month old, my wife wants me to spend time with them when I’m not working. I just snuck up here for a beer; she sent me out with a grocery list”, then he snickers, “and I just wound up here.” He shrugs his shoulders, tilts his head to the right, and throws his hands to each side and winks at me.

I just look at him, and start edging my way to the door.

“Those kids never stop crying, dude,” he continued. I stopped walking. “And I’m changing diapers day and night; I didn’t sign up for this shit. I’m a man. I’m not a nanny. I see your pictures on Facebook, man, you’re playing golf every week. Makes me jealous, man. When you’re not playing golf, you get to travel all over the country – not changing diapers! You are living a man’s life, I don’t know what I’m doing. My wife doesn’t get it, dude. I need some freedom.”

I don’t know why I said what I said next, or why I engaged. I knew that any wisdom I had to offer would be wasted on this child, this 28 year old boy. I should have kept my mouth shut and walked out the door with my translucent Solo cup full of that beautiful amber colored Oktoberfest. I should have taken my beer, my son, my sharply creased golf shorts with coordinating pullover, the admiration of the young and pretty bartender, and walked out the door. I should have, but I didn’t.

“What does your wife do? Isn’t she a teacher?” I asked.

“Yeah. Right? I know where you’re going with this. She gets her summers off! She’s like part time, and she gets home at least an hour before I do, but she wants me to pick them up from day care two days a week so she can have, “…just an hour” for herself.”

He held up those finger quote thingys as he said “just an hour”. I only hold up finger quote thingys when I’m making fun of people.

I said, “You’re kidding. Do you have to drop them off in the morning too?”

“No” he replied. “She drops them off, it’s sorta on her way to school.”

“I’ve never met your wife, but jeez dude, she sounds really selfish. She’s asking you to handle two tenths of the day care transportation responsibility for your kids? They are your kids, right?” I asked these questions, calmly, with just a hint of contemptuous sarcasm.

He kind of rocked his head back, looked at me incredulously “Yeah, dude, they’re my kids, of course they’re my kids”.

Fuse #2 reaches its end…

I stepped a little closer to him, and quietly, and only verbally, got him up against the ropes, and started working the body…with kindness.

“Then you should get yourself home and take care of them, little brother, before you do something you’ll regret. You get jealous of me because of golf pictures on Facebook? Dude, you’re missing it. I get jealous of your pictures! Your kids are beautiful.”

He starts to shrink a little, as I continue. “You’re a man, not a nanny? That’s not how it works – you are a nanny. We’re all “nannies” (I did the finger quotes) when they’re that age.”

Now I’m metaphorically working the head and the bodypeppering his soul, blow after blow with punches of love and wisdom and understanding. He’s trying to reach for his phone but the barrage of life lessons has him an emotional straight jacket.

I continue, “You’re gonna regret these feelings, dude. I would give anything for one more day with my kids when they were your kid’s age. You can golf for the rest of your life, dude, you have like ten more years with your kids in your complete care and protection. You don’t realize how fast this passes. Do you have any idea how precious and sacred it is to have these little…beings, look at you with that unconditional love, looking at you like you have all the answers. You’re a man? Really? You’re not acting like one. Get your ass outa here, get your groceries and go home and read your kids that book with the crickets in it, or Goodnight Moon.”

The whole time I’m talking, he refuses eye contact, he shakes his head, or he rolls his eyes or looks up at the ceiling. His posture becomes defensive, disengaged, as I finish my completely inappropriate and unsolicited sermon, he turns his back on me and walks out the door.

Wisdom most likely wasted; time poorly spent.

I should have shared some of the frustration I felt when I first became a father, because I do remember those days being difficult. But I don’t ever remember feeling like I was being denied anything or being cheated. It was the price of admission for the privilege of being a dad. Maybe I understood that because I started a family when I was much older than this kid (although, he’s 28 – technically NOT a kid).

For about 8 years, right up until my first child was born, I played golf just about every weekend. After the kids came, I played just about every Arbor Day. But I don’t remember missing anything – maybe I felt that way at the time, but that’s not what I remember.

This is what I know: Real men change diapers. Real men take their kids to day care. Real husbands give their wives a little more than 2 hours per week for a little down time. I’m not saying I am, or have been the perfect dad or husband, in fact, I know I sucked at it for a long, long, time.

But that’s not what I remember either.

I remember, donut day. Donut day meant throwing my kids in the car on Sunday morning, sometimes before mom even woke up, grabbing donuts and chocolate milk and going for a drive in the country. Or, if I needed a little golf fix, I took the kids to the driving range down the street. They shared a little set of clubs we bought for them, and they had a blast. I don’t know if they loved hitting golf balls, they just loved the time with me. I remember petting zoos and pumpkin patches, and Disney movies, and I remember other men, my friends, doing these things too.

Those memories are the trophies of a privileged and manly life.

I wish I had conveyed that a little better to this misguided kid. (28, REALLY isn’t a kid)

So anyway, Vitamin I walks away, I walk to the door, my son looks at me inquisitively – he didn’t hear my lecture (he knows what they sound like though) and asks if we’re “…gonna play or socialize all day? Who was that guy anyway?” “Just a friend…of a friend.”

“Okay. I’m gonna kick your butt on this back nine.” He taunted with his squeaky, changing, 13 year old voice. He’s becoming a man – God help me.

I’m starting to settle down as we step outside, just then, my bartender comes racing out, “Mr. Large Man, you forgot your change!”

Really. The dance continues, it’s very sweet, but a little sad too. I’m old enough to be her … umm… cousin. “I told you to keep the change, sweetie” I say, with empathy in my voice. Oh boy, this is getting awkward.

I start thinking of how I’m going to delicately tell her that I’m happily married, and most of the time my wife is too, so my well pressed outfits simply can’t be a permanent part of her future…but I’m really flattered and all. As I gather those gallant thoughts and organize the words I’ll use to let her down easy, I noticed she hasn’t taken her eyes off my son, even as she handed me the change that I would hand right back. She smiled at him, and did the hair behind the ear thing again. My son…

my 13-year old SON.

That’s where she was staring, and who she was smiling at, and shifting her hair for.

Here’s what I don’t get:

He was wearing British khaki colored pants and a grey hooded sweatshirt…and an orange hat. NOTHING on the same color palette, no texture match, no consideration of whether or not the outfit even matched his golf bag. Furthermore, NOTHING IRONED! He looked like he slept in his clothes; in fact, he probably did. That little, non-fashion conscious snake, stealing the heart of the woman who I imagined had a crush on me. And right in front of my face.

Maybe there’s a lot that I don’t get.

Now I have to have another version of that “let her down easy” conversation. Yes he’s six foot three, sure he’s handsome (he looks just like me) but he’s 13…no financial portfolio, doesn’t shave, and he couldn’t iron a pair of socks. This is a crazy reality shift: I’m not too old and too married for her, she’s too old, and too misguided for him.

Didn’t see that one coming…

Thanks for reading.

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Cool No More

Did you ever have an epiphany come to you in the midst of contemplation on a different subject? Like you were thinking or puzzling on one thing, and then that conundrum connected you to a non-related puzzle that had been tugging at you, and then the two combined and it made you go, “Ohhh…okay…sure. This makes sense!”

When the light reaches you, and it’s a good thing, it’s like that first sip of ice cold Gatorade (the green, original kind) after an hour long workout on a 90 degree day – refreshing, and uplifting. But when it’s a bad thing, the realization can slap you in the face with the blunt force of a smelly tube sock full of wet sand.

Today, I realized that I’m no longer cool. It’s an acute condition that I may have been afflicted with for quite some time now, and I just didn’t know. Smelly sock, wet sand, applied forcefully to noggin.

The details of how I opened the door to this discovery are not all that important; so naturally I’ll share every one with you:

I am a salesman. I work for a company that makes stuff. I sell that stuff to people who might use it to make other stuff. Or I sell stuff to people who fix the stuff that those other people made. I also sell my stuff to people who have stores. I convince those people to put my stuff on their shelves so they can also sell my stuff to people who make other stuff, or use my stuff, or fix my stuff – or other people’s stuff.

My job is to call on, advise, and serve, all the people who are connected to the ownership chain of my stuff. I also call on people who use stuff that’s sorta like my stuff, but the stuff they use is made by a company or companies that I don’t work for… competitors. That stuff might do the same thing as my stuff, but my stuff does it better, so I try to guide those people towards a discovery of that truth.

So now you’re seeing how this works; how I interact with people on a daily basis. It’s a real simple concept; the company I work for makes stuff and I sell it.

So this afternoon I was finishing up a deal with a company that makes stuff, and I got them to incorporate my stuff into the stuff they were making. It’s a nice piece of business with a company I really enjoy working with. I’ve been working with a young engineer (around 30 years old), and an even younger (about 25) supply chain guy.

Little side note here:

It’s Supply Chain now, NOT Purchasing Agent, or Procurement Officer, or Buyer. The people who perform this task are extremely sensitive about how they are referred to. As far as I can tell though, they’re still just buying stuff.

I’ve been meeting with these guys about once a month for the last 6 or 8 months. I know about their girlfriends, their dogs, their hobbies. I share my clever little stories and amusing anecdotes about my life on the road. Sometimes I turn the tales into parables about day to day issues that our two companies are facing as we try and make our products work together. I share this wisdom and experience with these younger fellas in order to create a relatable and mutually satisfying transaction. They laugh, they make good eye contact with me, and they seem to really tune in to my message…about my stuff. As most salesmen do, I feed off of that energy.

Our appointments are usually scheduled for around 11:00 in the morning, or close to the end of the day. I do this so I might be able to take these guys out to lunch or out for a few beers after work so I can properly convey my appreciation and the gratitude of my company for their continued support of our stuff…and so I can share more stories.

They always have a reason why they can’t go:

“Yeah, sorry, Large Man. I have a boatload of work to do.”

“Oh man, I appreciate it, but my dogs have been in the house all day. I have to go home and take care of them.”

When they both declined my lunch invitation this afternoon, I noticed that their eyes kind of shifted towards each other and the body language got a little antsy. They seemed eager for the meeting to end – it was almost like they didn’t want to hear any more of my stories. That was cool though, I was hungry, their facility was in a nice metro area, so I could pick any place I wanted. So I thanked them for their time and I left.

I drove across town to a nice little bistro, but before I went in for my mid-day nourishment, I sat in my car, answered a few emails, made a few calls – head buried in my phone, oblivious to the world outside of my European sports sedan/office. I walked in and headed to my favorite spot by the window.

As I stepped through the door, there was a table in the middle of the place with eight chairs that were becoming occupied by eight young professional men and women. They were just settling in, drinks being served, menus being passed around. THEN, two of those “young professionals” looked up at me  with eyes that said, “Ah shit!”

YES, it was my two little bros. The two young men I had just parted company with didn’t have work to do, or dogs to feed, they had other young professional people to hang out with. Cool people, peers…young, cool, peers, with relatable little stories of their own. Tales about beer bongs, and inappropriate Instagram photos, maybe spring break stories…tales that Twenty Somethings share.

The gym sock full of wet sand still hadn’t hit me as I looked at them and smiled. I honestly just thought, “Oh cool. They found some buddies. Getting’ together for a late lunch…” It didn’t even hit me as I noticed their “Ah Shit!!” expressions. I just gave them a wink, and a wave, and enjoyed a nice lunch at my window table.

It was about twenty-five miles down the road when the dull thud hit me. I don’t know why, but I was just thinking about a golf tourney that I had recently played in. This golf tournament is a charity thing, and it’s a gathering of a great cross section of people. I think there are about fifty golfers from all walks of life, the ages are anywhere from 18 to 80. The neatest thing about this tournament is that you sign up as an individual, but with the exception of the defending champions, you don’t know who you’re going to play with. The foursomes are drawn out of a hat. The team that won the year before gets the opportunity to defend their title, but all the other teams are just randomly selected. It’s a way to make it more social, it prevents a team from stacking the deck, and it’s just cool.

I’ve played this tournament for the last four years, and three of those years I’ve played with a quality young man who is the son of one of my besticles. (A besticle is the male version of a bestie…it’s a best friend). I can’t say enough about my besticles’ son. He’s in his early 20s; I’ve known him since he was about 16. He plays with our basketball group in the winter; he’s really cool to my son – a good role model. He is genuinely respectful to his elders, and he’s polite to his peers…peers like me. When my name was drawn for foursome # 3 at this year’s tournament, his name was drawn next. He looked over at me and smiled and said, “We’ve been on the same team three out of the last four years!”

“I know! How cool is that!” I replied.

He didn’t really say anything after that.

For some reason, after lunch I was thinking of the golf thing and interaction with this awesome kid – let’s just call him Ethan for the sake of the story. I thought how great it was for him to be able to play golf with a mentor type person like myself, but yet someone who still considered himself a peer to this young man. Just before the sock hit me, I was wondering if it ever bothered Ethan the he has 5 or 6 of his own besticles there at the tourney. Cousins and buddies that are his age, contemporaries he’s known forever in “Twenty Something” terms.

Smell that sock? Do you hear that swoosh as the heavy end of that sock travels its short but devastating arc towards the center of my forehead?

Hmmm…maybe Ethan would rather play with his buddies. Hey, wait a minute! Maybe those guys that build that stuff, and buy my stuff, would rather hang out with people their own age…and tell their own stories! No! It can’t be.

My head was sort of pounding from the blunt force of the emotional sock trauma. So I pulled over and started doing the math, and made a few withdrawals from my memory bank.

OK…I’m in my 50’s, and they’re 25…Ethan’s like 23. When I was their age, did I like listening to sales guys tell their tales? No.

(When I was in my early twenties, I worked in Supply Chain. It was called “Purchasing” back then. I interacted with a lot of fifty something sales guys – old guys. I can’t remember ever going to lunch with one)

When I was 20, did I EVER get excited about playing golf, or tennis, or Parcheesi with someone in their 50’s? The answer is also, a fairly definitive… no.

I’ve been living in a fool’s paradise. Nobody has dogs to walk. Nobody in their 30s; the prime of their life, would rather do their work than go to lunch, or go out for beers. They would just rather do it with someone cool… and not 50… (OK, 55, but the point is the same.)

Not only would I not have hung out with “Fifty Somethings” when I was in my 20’s, I would have gotten together with my friends and talked about how pathetic…

AHH Shit!

Thanks for reading.

The Large Man Chronicles supports The Sandbox at Madeline’s Place, and we ask that you do too. Go to http://www.thesandboxatmadelinesplace.com and see what they’re about. THEN…order a t-shirt, or a sweatshirt – you’ll look good, and you’ll feel GREAT. And if you need a tax deduction, a donation to this 501(c)(3) charity might make more sense than having another kid.

Here at the LMC,  our intention is to entertain and amuse, and occasionally provoke thought. However, it is our firm belief that thought provocation should never be at the expense of laughter. It is NEVER our intent to agitate, instigate, humiliate or hurt. Like carnival rides and unprotected sex in third world countries, we’re just doing this for fun.

We have a Fan Page on Facebook, and you’re invited to join. I have an email address, and you can tell me what you think of this carnival ride at:

Big Love,


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