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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Charity, Faith and Forgetting My Kids…

My brain is fried; over medium... 
The old United Negro College Fund commercial stated, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

While I’m sure they weren’t intending it at me, it sure looked that way last weekend.

I’ll be honest, I have a tendency of forgetting things; my wallet, my cell phone (not a good thing when I’m the manager on call!), the nightly empty glass of water or beer can on the living room coffee table, paying my bills on time and balancing my check book and, my wife’s favorite, leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen sink (not that she has learned to appreciate the empty beer can or unpaid bills but who’s counting?).

On the occasional days where I have to go pick up my kids from my parents house on my way home from work, I have been known to drive all the way home, only to realize I forgot them and have to drive all the way back.

Maybe, it's all the brain cells I killed in high school, college and after college, or maybe, as friends who are in the TV news business call it, it's newsheimers, which is an unofficial industry term used for the over-taxation of the human brain with a constant flow of facts, decisions and information that causes eventual burn out, like the egg on drugs commercial.  However, my wife just calls it a lack of concentration, or worse, a lack of interest, in the things that are not as important to me (which really stings).

Anytime the things I most cherish in life; my faith and family; are put into question, it hurts. But, I can see where my own actions often betray my sentiments.

In fact, for me, living my faith and loving my family on a daily basis is often like dancing the Mambo; I take one or two step forward and one or two steps back (albeit with less hip gyration!).

Last weekend was a perfect example. I was involved in a charity golf tournament for our kids’ school, volunteered to paint the convent for the Carmelite sisters from the parish, but then topped it off by forgetting to pick up my kids and my parents’ birthday get-together.

It all started Friday.  I took a few days off last week, as compensation for having worked during Hurricane Isaac, which turned out to be, as William Shakespeare would say, “Much Ado about Nothing” (or as the classic Facebook posting of a friend that showed a plastic outdoor table and chairs with one chair down and stated, "Hurricane Isaac 2012; Never Forget!"), to get some errands done and prepare for a couple of presentations I have to make to various groups at our parish.

However, when a good friend found out that I was off, he invited me to play in the annual golf tournament to benefit the school, which, because of work, and my playing prowess, I have never been able to participate in.

Now, what I mean by my playing prowess is that I am to golf what Roseanne Bar is to opera; both as a singer or as a patron.

Before last Friday, I had played a total of one time; with my brother and his friends, who were more concerned about not spilling their libations as we rode around the course in our golf cart than actually playing the game, more than 10 years ago.

So, needless to say, my game needs a little work.

Despite that, we had a lot of fun.  We enjoyed some male bonding, adult beverages, food, I had a cigar (actually half because it flew off the cart while I was eating a hot dog), and even got in some playful banter with our church pastor, who was playing a hole ahead of us.  Moreover, I got to drive a Porshe 911 Turbo S convertible, that my friend’s car dealership, Brickell Motors (plug, plug) had on display as one of the main sponsors of the tournament and gala. 

In any case, we were cruising along merrily in the golf cart, about two hours into the game, me hacking away at the balls and occasionally stinging one wide right (no matter how much I tried aiming left, the ball would drift right!), while enjoying the afternoon sun when reality set in.

At about 3:15pm, I get a call from an unknown number and, when I answered, I hear my oldest daughter’s voice, “Dad, you forgot to pick us up!”

OMG, my kids! Since I had taken a few days off, I had told my parents that I was picking them up from school for the rest of the week and was supposed to be at the school by 3pm!

The puzzled look of someone trying to remember...
It was like The Hangover moment; sans Mike Tyson’s tiger, a chicken, drugs and alcohol, a tooth pulled or tattoos (although, maybe just a little alcohol by that point).

The first thing that crossed my mind was, not the safety of my kids, since they were in school and were going to be fine, or the ten dollars I was going to have to shell out for each for after-school care, but that my wife was going to kill me! (Is fear for your life a good or bad thing in marriage?) It was as if time stood still.

“I forgot to pick up my kids!” I told my friends in horror.

They started laughing but, immediately, the friend that had invited me sprang into action and started calling his wife to bail me out.

As he was doing that, another voice came on the phone, “Carlos.  Carlos, listen to me.  Don’t worry,” it was a teacher friend of ours, “I’ll take them with me to the play ground. If they take them to the cafeteria, you’ll get charged for after-school care but I have to be here until 6pm, anyway. Pick them up as soon as you can.” (It’s good to have friends in high places)

Whew!  I felt a sense of relief.  Crisis averted!  I could get back to the game, cigar and beers and pick them up when we finished, I thought.  It would stay between our teacher friend and me and everything would be fine.  

But, then, another thought crossed my mind. I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I know my kids. They love to tell my wife when daddy messes up.  And, unfortunately, that's pretty often!  My wife was sure to find out about my latest gaff.

If I had had a split personality, which I often think I do, since I unfortunately adhere to, as St. Paul states in his Letter to the Romans, sometimes doing what I shouldn’t do and not doing what I should, I would have said to myself, using the famous Laurel and Hardy line, “Well, here’s another fine mess you gotten me into.”

My mind started racing.  We still had about ten holes left in the game.  Should I just go and leave my friends?  I checked my watch and noticed it was already 3:20pm. My wife usually gets out of work in about ten minutes. I might as well fess up and ask her to pick up the kids.  She was going to find out anyway!

So, I called her and gave her the great news. I needed her to go pick up the kids because I was playing golf and forgot them. Nice. 

It actually went better than I thought. Maybe, after 14 years, she’s finally getting used to my misadventures!

She picked them up, my friends and I finished the game and that night we had a great time at the post-tournament gala and silent auction.

But, my weekend memory lapses got better.

On Sunday, my parents had invited us to a family get-together to celebrate both of their birthdays, which were in September, and I told them we couldn't make it until after the evening Mass, since, as I have mentioned in a previous blog, we are now doing boot camp training for a super spartan race in February on Sunday mornings.

That night, we were sitting at The Ale House, where we sometimes have dinner after Mass, when my dad calls.  As I answered he asked, "Carlos, are you almost here?  We're waiting for you."  My uncles, cousins, their kids and my parents' best friends were all waiting for us for dinner!  I got The Hangover feeling again! I really suck.

Do they prescribe Ritalin for adults?...

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