Norman White , The Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch Founder- Anthony Norman White

The Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch

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.

Tree in Chaumont River - Anthony Norman White
Tree in Chaumont River – Anthony Norman White

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?

The Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch - Anthony Norman White
The Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch – Anthony Norman White

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.)

 

 

I Might Be an Idiot, but I’m Not a Dad: A Message to Pi

“Walk gentle when you’re spilling”

“Be careful if you’re gonna sit chirping”

“Don’t fit that to the pudding”

These are real sentences that I recently uttered.

I don’t know what I’m saying anymore, and there is hardly a time when words dance by my lips announced.  They tumultuously escape.  They coagulate loosely in my skull then rush past my tongue and face with haste and quick disdain.  I can’t think fast enough to react correctly so I abruptly yell something idiotic at my son who is two and a half now and getting into all sorts of trouble.

“Quit parking that thing’s all wet!” I yell.  He looks at me confused and bewildered and I can tell he already thinks I’m stupid. But we all think our dads are stupid, until we’re dads.  And then we know our dads are stupid.  But it’s for good reason.  We’re tired, we’re confused, and we’re all a little bit of a toddler ourselves before bed and when we’re really hungry.  And maybe that’s why my son and I have been getting along so well and the same reason why we yell at each other.

“You see cup”?

“What cup?  Red?”

“Thomas see show?  Cory?”

“Quit nosing water with them.”

“Two red Cory.”

“It’s idgy.”

I have no idea which one of us started that conversation or where it was heading.  We sound the same, the only difference being his voice is higher than mine and much less gruff.  And when we’re alone together, while mom is at work, we both wander around the house confusing each other and making strange noises, throwing things down the stairs and laughing at farts.

I wasn’t sure how hard parenting was going to be.  I thought I was sort of ready.  And I was, but I keep getting surprised at things I didn’t know about or things that I’m not quite ready to handle.  It’s like finding out that different color Fruit Loops are actually all the same flavor.  You’re not completely surprised, but you certainly didn’t know that before and it’s shocking at first, then you rationalize, and move on.

But for moments in time it’s frustrating, confusing, and hectic.  And no amount of reading, studying, or mimicking can prepare you for fatherhood.  It just happens and there you are standing naked in the middle of a snowy field, no direction, no idea where you are, just standing naked for the world to see, and you’re so blatantly obvious; obvious you’re a new dad, a new parent, and just starting to find your way.  The other parents that have found their way walk by and giggle a little.  “I remember that”, they think to themselves.  “Poor, bastard.  He’ll learn.  The hard way.  Ha Ha Ha”!
I’ve taken my bumps and bruises along the way so far.  I’ve had my fair share of train wrecks.  But when it all comes down to it I wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world.  Every single frustration is met with an equal elation.  Every second of sleepless nights is worth the second it takes him to utter “I love you” for the first time.  Immediately you forgive and forget.  Immediately the ire you have for him climbing on the TV stand or dumping his milk under the couch cushion is absolved when he says with a big goofy grin “Dada funny” for the first time.  As miserable as I can be coming home from work when I enter the back door and I hear his tiny feet scamper wildly through the house and the kitchen door bursts open, and there he is, half naked, half eaten graham crackers strewn in his hair, snot dripping from his nose and a smile erupts on his face and he excitedly screams “Dada!”  I know it’s going to be OK and suddenly I feel better and I’m happy again. In five minutes he’ll be climbing on the TV stand and I’ll jump up spilling my beer across the living room floor and yell “Don’t pile up to that stick”!  But that’s OK too.  At least it makes him laugh.

No Pi, dad isn’t an idiot.  He’s just dad.  Now quit carton and start moving, so we can dipe that changer.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.

From Memory to Hallmark to Earmark

Today is Father’s Day.  You hopefully already know that.  It’s a day filled with barbecues, small back yard tents, and of course beer.  A day to remember the strange animal that lived in your house growing up, over worked and tired, confused, dressing for a different decade, and listening to “real music”.  The same hairy bimbo that can’t stop cursing at the lawnmower.  Papa.  Dad.  Pops. Whatever you call him.  Today is a day to remember him.  Who he is.  Or who he was.

There’s a bunch of us that have the fortunate opportunity to see their father today.  There’s some of us that have the amazing luck to talk to their father today.  There’s got to be a handful that will at least be blessed with a hallmark card to be remembered by, even if you can’t speak with your dad over the phone that particular day. But there are others still who won’t be able to  do that.  Won’t be able to get a card from them, or send a card to them.  And this hallmark holiday will serve  a different purpose.  As a reminder more than anything, just another earmark.

I’m lucky today.  I’l be able to get on Skype with my dad. We’ll talk about The NBA finals game 7 tonight, we’ll mince words about my new lawnmower, and we’ll share our pleasant exchanges, which we’ll both blow off like it’s no big deal.  But it is.  And we’ll both know that too.  And so for father’s day my dad and I every year give each other a giddy, tongue in cheek “happy dad’s day”.  It’s a pretty good gift.  And it’s one of a kind.

But I know there’s some of you out there today that don’t have dad to get a card from, or Skype, or call.  And today means something different.  And I respect that.  And I’m at least empathetic to that.  As much in reality that I can be, anyway.  So today I wan’t you to know that I’m thinking about you. And that I’ll at the very least casually bring you up in conversation today, but mostly to tell a good story.

Today is my third Father’s Day.  I’m not one for holidays.  But this one is OK with me.  A little recognition for changing poopy diapers, getting puked on, getting occasionally punched in the nuts, and ham-fistedly trying to repair various household items unsuccessfully is nice.  You get the nod from strangers, other moms, and other dad’s.  The dad’s holding up their kid like a badge of courage, as if they’ve been through war, tethered sheepishly to a trundling stroller and plodding along as the moss back mule, carrying the heavy load.

No matter what you call dad, today is the day to at the very least call upon him, for reverence, guidance, or to tell a good story that brings about a nice memory.  Happy Dad’s Day, Big T.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.