No matter what the situation is you should arm yourself. It doesn’t have to be a weapon, but if the situation is trying to run through a football field full of rabid Grizzly Bears, then a weapon may be in order. If you plan on playing chess against Bobby Fischer, you might want to brush up on your chess skills and contact a good spirit medium.
But you should arm yourself with knowledge and tools wherever you go. It literally makes us human; it’s what separates us from the rest of the animal pack. It’s why we go to zoos and don’t live in them.
Sometimes you can arm yourself with whatever is lying around. This weekend my father and I dislodged a tree from under a dock with a branch that washed up on shore. Opportunity comes knocking and I always try to answer the door.
That’s why I armed myself with hot dogs and scotch. I took leftover hot dogs from a cookout at my parents’ house over the weekend and a bottle of scotch my Aunt Paula gave me and I went to battle; potty training a three year old.
Well almost three. But that’s not the point. He’ll barely remember all of this, if at all, while I’ll be scarred for life. This is where the hot dogs and scotch come in. They make things a bit more palatable. Even dookie.
It’s true, mornings are spent rehydrating after all that booze and salt, but they are when you’re on vacation, too. So this is my sadistic vacation, my twisted Fantasy Island, my cruddy, dump filled Space Mountain.
While I was at the cookout I snapped a bunch of pictures of the family and of my parent’s property. But for some reason I took a picture of a picture. It’s the one at the top of the page of the old guy. That’s my Great Grandfather, Norman. His first name is my middle name and I always felt like that was a really important piece of me.
His son was my grandfather, Leroy. My wife and I chose Leroy as our son’s middle name, hoping to start a family tradition.
I was going through the pictures of the weekend when I came across the one of Norman. I stared at him for a long time, the deep wrinkles and sun-leathered skin had seen it all; drought, famine, the hottest summer, the coldest winters. I suddenly realized something.
He had to potty train my grandfather Leroy. What a funny thing to think about. I can only think of those two as the older men that I knew, so the vision in my head looks more like a geriatric funny farm rather than the dairy farm they both grew up on.
But just as I share a name with Norman, I share a story, too; Potty Training. It’s literally the fraternal order, I am doing as my dad did, as his dad did, as his dad did, and so on. I wonder if they spent the week armed with hot dogs and scotch and that’s where I got this idea?
It doesn’t matter. That’s not the point.
The point is that we feel connected to our past and that it comes in all sorts of ways. I suddenly felt connected by more than just a name to my great grandpa by simply beginning the potty training process on my son. I felt as though I finally belonged in the White Fraternal Order of Things. I’m commencing my part in history.
But I like flashy names. And I like Hot Dogs. And I like scotch. So, there’s that.
I would like to extend the invitation to all new dads and moms who are about to begin the potty training process. Come be a part of the Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch. It may not make potty training any easier, but it might make it tolerable because hot dogs and scotch.
(This piece is dedicated to Kiki. Thumbs up, dude.)