Why I have no tattoos

After waiting in a growing line, I was totally cool when the man and two women – all very attractive and tattooed – came out of the tiny one-person bathroom at a Denver joint called Bellwether.  I acted like it was no big thing as I squeezed (alone) into the tiny space to pee.

Then I went down the steep black stairs into the basement, holding tightly to the railing because breaking a hip at a hip place like this would not have been not hip.

My forever friend Shawn had invited me to an event called #Sharealike, which was the inaugural Denver version of Share, a Portland thing that brings together people to create things around a prompt over a couple of hours.

Shawn said Bellwether was the most Portland place she’d been since … Portland, where she had lived.

Before we headed downstairs, I had joked to the man the counter that we were going to spend the evening giving each other tattoos.

Little did I know that there was a full tattoo setup, including tattoo table, downstairs. Plus it was Tattoo Tuesday!

The talented tattoo artist on duty said she she was focusing on floral and succulent images that evening, and she had  some beautiful drawings.

But business was not brisk. She spent most of the evening lounging on the tattoo table focused on her smart phone. She is in the background of the photo of me.

Shawn rallied a half dozen of creatives (I think that’s the term we use today). They included a graphic artist, a print maker, a comic book artist who races cars, a collage artist and a woman who paints with plants (yes, it’s as interesting as it sounds). Plus me, a person who just strings words together.

The prompt was the word “chicken”.

Inspired by unused tattoo table, I decided to write a poem about tattoos.  Here it is:

Chicken

I don’t have any tattoos.

I never been willing to commit to a

Cause

Band

Astrological sign

Platitude

Platitude in Chinese

Platitude in Arabic

Platitude in Hebrew

Or person

Long enough to put them permanently on my skin.

Except my kids.

(But tattoos of children are cheesy/creepy

On an old guy.)

I worry about how tattoos will look on saggy skin.

Has anyone ever gone to a nursing home and said to a resident “great tattoo”?

If I had to compare my skin to a food, I’d say raw chicken.

So my tattoo might look like someone took a Sharpie to a supermarket chicken thigh.

The only statement that makes is: “Ewwww.”

Maybe the boldest move I can make

Is to leave my canvas blank

So the only thing to focus on is the hairs

And freckles

And age spots

Which would tell my story better than any tattoo I could imagine.

 

 

 

Airline boarding status as a metaphor for life

I once flew on a private jet. It was cool. No TSA. Shrimp plate. Valet delivered car to tarmac (well, not my car because I was just a hitchhiker).

But it occurred to me that private jet travel, while super convenient, deprives one of the joy of feeling superior to other passengers.

In an airline’s first class, or business class, or even A group on Southwest, one gets to look down on the poor schlubs behind you.

No matter what group I am on Southwest – usually I hover between low Bs and high Cs (sort of like my high school report cards) – I feel a great sense of superiority over/pity for those (often very few) people who follow me.

But to lounge in wide leather seats in first class while a parade of serfs wrestle their bags past me to steerage – now that would be living!

Actually, I once flew on first class. I was with my mom, who had free upgrade coupons from her United Airlines credit card.

Because it was a flight to Los Angeles, it was a very cool crowd in first class so I kept my sunglasses on inside the cabin and pretended to make a call on seat-back phone. (This was a long time ago. Remember those phones?)

Unfortunately, before we departed, the flight attendant came over and asked us if we wanted a mimosa and my mom, who was losing her hearing, asked loud enough to be heard several rows away, “What’s a mimosa?”

At that point my embarrassment was so acute I would have just taken the vodka and a funnel.

I guess I’m really just a middle seat-in-the-back-row-by-the-bathroom kind of guy.

Everything needed for great band except talent

Updated with even more great submissions at end.

Imagine if all parents since the beginning of time had to find a completely original name for each of their children?  No repetition ever.

That’s essentially the challenge facing bands – ever since the advent of rock music, when bands started devise original names (instead of just referencing the name of their leader, like the Benny Goodman Orchestra).

No two bands can have the same name. Ever.

Broad consensus exists that the Beatles are the greatest rock band ever but the name is trite – and they picked it back in 1960 when options were practically unlimited.

Nearly six decades later the options are much more limited. Let’s say there have been a million bands formed in human history. That means a million band names are now unavailable for eternity.

And there already have been some really terrible band names. 

Established names are jealously protected. As the New York Times notes, “Once a band name turns into a brand name, there’s a strong incentive to continue on, even with a lineup that makes fans ask, ‘Who are these guys?’”

So inventing new band names is a fun parlor game (though online searches can be deflating as one discovers that there is nothing new under the sun).

Although I don’t play an instrument, write songs or sing, I keep an ear open for potential band names, often aided by my brilliant and inventive work colleagues and friends.

So when my hometown of Denver gets a blizzard, I think Bomb Cyclone or Bombogenesis. (Unfortunately, Thundersnow has already been taken, apparently named during a Boston blizzard.)

I’m a catastrophic ruminator  – one who chews over worst-case scenarios – so I think The Catastrophic Ruminators would be a good name.

As someone who has some knowledge of political polling, I also like the Urban Persuadables.

My work colleagues and I have come up with a hundred other band names. (Apologies in advance if these have already been taken. I have not researched all of them.)

Rogue Mascots

Throng of Thrushes

The Phlebotomists

The Misophonics (or Misophoniacs)

The Dry Sockets (This name was conceived around a wisdom teeth removal.)

Moral Turpitude

The People Under the Bleachers

Warranted Outbursts

1000 Mondays

Macro Aggressions

Narcissistic Nomads

Russian Bots

Miraculous Atlas

Miscellaneous Deliverables

Dead Batteries

Joy Terrorists

Digital Natives

Toilet Paper Enablers (This references the person who always changes the roll because no one else does.)

Digital Hoarders (Ever seen someone who has too many files on their desktop?)

Unsolicited Advice

Phantom Limbs

Party City Illuminati

Careless Fires

The Sad Normans

Radically Candid

The Succulent Society (This is inspired by the actual Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society.)

The Nocturnal Juicers (This was inspired by an NPR story about the people who recharge scooters.)

Terry Gross (Also a nod to NPR, of course. Offered by Shawn Bowman of Two Bee Industries.)

Tijuana Drone Factory (My brother gets credit for this.)

We’ve also come up with some potential album names:

Tears in My Beard

Bleeding you Dry (by The Phlebotomists)

Nuclear Grab Bag

Triggered

American Succulent (by the Succulent Society, of course)

Begrudgingly Yours

Radioactive Food Scraps

No Offense Intended

Self-Induced Crisis

Do you have band or album names you’d like to use if you actually had a band or were creating an album? Did I unintentionally rip off your name and you want me to remove it? Please let me know in the comments.

Here are some great submissions from comments and Twitter:

The Undeductibles (Timely at tax time or for a band of accountants.)

Phlegmon (Submitted by an emergency physician. I had to look up the definition). If you wanted to get really creative, you could go with Blind Phlegmon Jefferson as tribute to the great Blind Lemon Jefferson. Unfortunately, the “g’ in “phlegmon” is apparently not silent – the emergency physician tells me – so this whole thread ends not with a bang but with a whimper.

A couple nice ones from Stefan Bielski:

Skinny Buddha

The Rhythm Methodists

I came up with some other new ones:

Pamplemousse

Interactive Tunnel of Bubbles (Maybe better as an album name.)

The Plastic Squares

And then Dr. Elizabeth Esty, M.D., added:

Comfort measures

Clatter (Love it!)

The Suggestions (Too good to not be taken, right?)

Biofilm (Apparently, this does not reference French New Wave cinema.)

Learning Curve

Looming Threat

Keep ’em coming please. (That’s not a band name. It’s a plea. Thank you.)

 

What I learned on my Instagram adventure

My niece Isabel – a very bright and engaging high school junior from Berkeley, California – is my Instagram sherpa.

She has helped guide me up the steep incline as I try to adapt my dad platitudes to that medium.  She suggests the snipits of advice that will do best on Instagram, a medium she knows well as a digital native, and then designs my thoughts into simple images.

I like Instagram because it is the anti-Facebook (even though it is owned by Facebook). It has comparatively little politics and toxicity. These days, it feels like an oasis of calm in the noxious storm of social media.

I thought I’d do my part to try to push a little positivity into the universe by posting my fortune cookie-sized thoughts on Instagram.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Keep it simple. Okay, that’s old advice but social media will remind you why it’s true. Isabel taught me that the simple, direct insights beat sarcasm or complicated humor.  And by beat I mean, get the most likes.
  • Because I spent a few bucks to promote the posts, I get official Instagram insights. What I learned is that my audience is 90-plus percent female, mostly in their teens and early 20s. So I’m like the Justin Bieber of social media. (Joking! Justin Bieber is the Justin Bieber of social media.)

These were some of the daddytudes that got the most positive responses on Instagram:

  • Always hold the door open for the people behind you.
  • Taking a walk is always a good choice. (This one, however, produced an unexpected question: What about when you’re on house arrest? I had to admit that I hadn’t anticipated that scenario and that taking a walk is not *always* a good choice.)
  • It’s never a bad idea to ask for help.
  • It’s hard to laugh and cry at the same time so keep laughing. (Perhaps a universal sentiment. It’s worked for me.)
  • Be quick to apologize, slow to blame.
  • People who are rude to waiters are showing their true colors. (This one seemed to hit a nerve, perhaps especially among those who are in the service sector.)
  • Be loyal to those who are loyal to you. (Simple but it speaks to me.)
  • It’s OK to lick the yogurt lid. (Relatable, I guess. I still can’t stop myself.)

If you’d like to see the rest of them, please visit https://www.instagram.com/daddytudes/. And if you like them, all credit goes to Isabel!

P.S. On Instagram, I follow almost everyone back except for anyone who posts about politics and the foot fetish account. (I don’t judge but try to keep it clean given my young audience.)

 

Moms give great advice, too

My sister, Julia Wilson, recently recapped some of the great advice we received from our late mother.  While this blog is dedicated to my dad, my mom was a fount of wisdom, often doled out with unsparing candor.

Julia’s piece, Things my mother used to say, includes these bon mots:

  • Don’t yell my name — if you want to talk to me YOU come find ME.
  • Never wait until the last day to meet a deadline. You might get the flu.
  • Get dressed every day, even if you’re sick.
  • Read all sections of the newspaper every day. (This also applies to online news outlets.)

I encourage you to check out Julia’s parenting blog, justjugglingitall.com.

#lifegoals

My daily goal is simple: Cross off more things on my to-do list than I add.

Most days I fail miserably.

But my hope is that I can catch up so they can etch on my tombstone (if I’m not just dumped into a pauper’s grave) that I had reached the bottom of my to-do list.

That also seems like a good life goal: Cross everything off your to-do list before you die.

 

Doing laundry and thinking big thoughts

When the Greeks created the legend of Sisyphus – cursed to push a boulder uphill for eternity, only to have it perpetually roll back down – they may have been envisioning a metaphor for doing laundry.

While J. Cole rapped about his deep desire to fold clothes, most of us view laundry as a tiresome and never-ending chore.

In fact, even if you clean everything in the laundry basket, you still can’t clean the clothes you are wearing. So unless you do the laundry naked – which is especially awkward at a laundromat – you’ll always have dirty laundry. That also seems like a metaphor.

On the upside, however, doing laundry provides plenty of downtime to think ponder deep questions – and not just about why there are so many orphan socks.

For example, from where does lint come? (No, the answer is not your navel.) I researched that question and learned that lint consists of tiny particles of fabric captured by the dryer.  So I wondered, if I leave my clothes in the dryer long enough, will they eventually disappear?

And are no-iron clothes putting dry cleaners out of business? Speaking of dry cleaning, is it really completely dry?

I wonder if J. Cole still enjoys doing laundry.