Tag Archives: Acting

Distraction Drama Dismay

The twitchier I get, the more inventive I get.

What with the youngest dude, Hyper Lad, starting to get behind the wheel now that he’s 15, I’m probably more twitchy then I’ve ever been when I consider having to teach this guy how to drive.

I feel like one of those short-timers from any movie about Vietnam. As the date they will rotate home gets closer and closer, they get more and more paranoid about something happening to them before they get out.

I’ve made it through teaching two other young dudes how to drive, but now that the last one is come around, I’m starting to freak out more than I ever have before.

Fortunately for me, I actually have made it through two other driving debuts so I do have a couple of tricks in my bag.

The first big trick in the bag is repetition, which is the trick I take out of the bag first. This is one trick I have been using for a long time with things like texting. Knowing I have/had three sponges sitting behind me, I make sure to loudly and often refer to the fact that I got a text, but can’t read it because I was driving. Or I will ask one of them to read aloud the text and respond.

They have heard again and again, seen again and again and again, that they should not text and drive. I get the feeling that they’re more likely than not to follow in those footsteps, if only to avoid having to hear me talk about it again and again and again and again. . .

Since the spawn couldn’t see my face while I was driving and they riding, I made sure to continually talk about how I was keeping my eyes on the road even when I had to change the radio or something similar. I recommend them getting to know their car/dashboard well enough that they don’t have to look to hit the radio buttons.

While this next step might be corny, I think it really does work. Before I allowed any of the young dudes to drive on their own, I sat them down and went over point by point exactly what was expected of them. For each point, they had to tell me specifically that they would not or would do that point. You also can do the same thing in a written contract they must sign.

Include repercussions that will occur to the young driver should he or she violate the terms of the promise/agreement. And enforce those terms.

While not necessarily distracting, one thing I have made sure they know is something that my mom made me understand. If I was ever out with friends and either I, as driver, or my friend, as driver, had been drinking, I could call my mom and she would pick everyone up, no matter the time, and never say another word about it.

I only ever called her once, but she was true to her word. I’ve made sure that my young dudes understand that as well. If there is any sign of impairment, they always know they have a free, safe ride without any sort of blowback for them. Knowing that we trust them enough that we’ll offer that kind of thing, actually helps them to do the right thing because they want to live up to that trust.

Or at least that was how I felt when I was on the other end of the bargain.

In North Carolina, new drivers aren’t allowed to stuff the car with their friends. Neither are new drivers with the last name of Jones, who live in Casa de Dude. We make it a point for our young dudes to understand that their first job as drivers is to make their way from Point A to Point B safely. Bringing along anyone else is way, way down the list.

Friends in the car can be even more distracting than driving by a 10-car pile-up of a circus truck, a shipment from a marble factory and a funeral home for mimes.

The two big takeaways from this would have to be make sure you model good driving behavior and communicate with your neophyte driver, which means both of you talk and both of you listen.

Distraction starts behind the eyeballs. Fortunately, safety does as well, so make sure there’s more room for safety.

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Dating Like A Teenager

by Richard

I’ve got a theory about dating. Yeah, dudes, I know. I haven’t been dating for more than two decades, but that doesn’t mean I can’t think about it.*

This all came out of a discussion with Pitt and Mike, a couple of friends of mine who are a) on the way to getting divorced and b) long divorced. Both men are back in the dating pool and have joined several meet-up groups. The problem is they keep meeting up with women who — to the perception of Pitt and Mike (and me as well, when I get the skinny on the dates) — keep acting like they were in high school.

These ladies will tell someone else to tell someone else that they like a certain someone. Even in this age and day of enlightenment and equality, Pitt said, one lady told him (paraphrasing closely), “If I do on a date, there’s no way I’m paying a dime. That’s the guy’s job.” And this was a woman with a good job who was doing well.

It’s a lot of back and forth with a lot of the behavior trending toward immaturity. That’s when I had a flash of insight. What I think happens to people who get married is that their dating styles and expectations freeze where they were when the stopped dating.

Their dating acumen ends as soon as they get married. Sure, they might go on dates with their spouses, but it’s not the same as meeting a stranger, feeling them out (not up) and then deciding if you want to spend time with them. So their dating acumen is stuck at wherever it was when they got married.

If they married in college, they (and I’m talking dudes and dudettes here) will tend to see dating through the lens of a college student. What was acceptable then is so now. What didn’t pass muster then, doesn’t do it today.

I really think this is what’s going on. And not just with the ladies Pitt and Mike are dating, either. Although I didn’t mention that to them when we were talking. (Here’s hoping they don’t read the blog.) I get the feeling this is a cross-gender issue.

Of course, having identified the problem, I’m not sure there is anything that can be done about it. Unless, you, the dude or dudette reading this is, in fact, one of those who married young and is recently divorced. Then you could take a look at your own behavior and see what you can do to drag your dating self up to your actual age.

Or, if you’re going out with someone like this, just realize what’s going on and make allowances.

I’m just glad I’m not out there having to start dating all over again. I’m not sure if my body could hold up to an endless round of keggers and pizza. Still, that’s what you’re supposed to do on a date, right?

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Forest? What Forest?

by Richard

Am I wrong to be learning things from the dog? I’m hoping not because I think I have been acting the student to an organism that enjoys eating goose poop.

The other day I was walking with Buzz, the garbage disposal that walks like a dog, and he was having a grand old time. Seriously, the dude was happy as I’ve seen any dog. He had his nose to the ground and was running and sniffing and peeing, sometimes all at the same time. Like I said, his version of a great time.

As we were walking, well, more like I was getting towed by the leash, I actually had my head up and was paying attention to my surroundings. Which is why I saw the flock of Canada geese eating grass seeds about 50 yards down the road. Buzz, because he was so busy with his immediate surroundings, saw nothing.

The dog would love nothing more than to take off after that flock of Canada geese, scattering them to the four winds and barking his fool head off. But not that day. We kept getting closer and closer, but Buzz kept not noticing. Eventually, the geese took off into the air, leaving behind a dog that didn’t even know he was supposed to be disappointed.

The second time I was walking Buzz, I was the one not paying attention. I’d gotten bored just walking with the dog, so I pulled out my phone and started to read a book while I was walking. Which is why I never saw the really deep hole that happened to be right under my right foot.

I walked on, oblivious, and stepped into the hole. I pitched forward and fell onto my face, barely keeping from popping my knee into mush.

There’s an old saying about how you can sometimes miss seeing the forest because of all those trees in the way. That’s something very true. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what’s under our noses that we forget to pay attention to the wider world around us. Buzz taught me a little something, a reminder that what’s right next to us is not the sum and total of our existence.

That’s good advice. I don’t care if it came from a poop-eating dog.

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