Tag Archives: Southern Accent

Zippy The Changing Man

I’ve seen him laughing, crying and howling. I’ve even seen him dead.

Fortunately, he was only playing dead as part of a film project while away at University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Today is the day we celebrate every single aspect of the young man known to one and probably that’s all (known to me, of course) as Zippy the Travelin’ Boy.

Yep. It’s another birthday. This time, my middle not-so-little dude is leaving the teens behind and venturing into his 20s. It’s a bit of a shock to see the literal little handful, who had the most amazing head of thick, black hair when he was born, now grown into a young man who towers over his dad.

Zippy the Monkey BoyZippy the Travelin’ Boy has always been the most mutable of our sons. He’s gone through fashion statements (I’ll never forget the violent 180˚ turn he made from surfer punk to cowboy), loves, hates, political perspectives and just about everything else in his life as if he were in a fire sale at a department store and he needed to try on the clothing before it disappeared.

He’s been a bit of a chameleon, is what I’m trying to say. Oddly, considering he took so long to actually speak both understandably and out loud as a child, he’s probably the most verbally accomplished of the three dudes.

By which I mean that he’s always been the type to try out different accents and verbal tics and patterns, sort of like me. I started out early as well. As a young kid, I lived in England and got teased for being an American. So I developed a deep Southern accent, which came in handy when we moved back to Texas. However, as I grew older and started playing football, my teachers assumed I was an idiot because of the accent and the football so they expected nothing from me.

I didn’t like that. So I decided to drop the Southern accent and did, beginning to speak in a bland, newscaster-ish accent. To me, it was easy, but I learned that other people have a hard time doing that. I thought I was unique.

Until Zippy the Travelin’ Boy came into his own. He began copying the various accents I used when I read aloud to the boys and then doing better at them. He started mimicking the unusual voices he heard on television and in the movies, doing a stunningly accurate Bane voice that always cracks me up.

His latest chameleon turn came when he hit college. Since he was 2 and able to mispronounce it relatively consistently, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy (then known as Zippy the Monkey Boy both for his climbing skill and love of animals) wanted to become a marine biologist. Until he hit campus and discovered he would actually have to work and learn to earn that degree.

At which point, he discovered acting and fell in love. Since he wanted to make a living once he graduated, he decided to major in psychology while minoring in both Spanish and theater performance. It’s been fascinating to watch his ambition and skill flower in this new environment.

Whenever we talk about it, his mother and I are smiling like fools.

Which hasn’t always been the case. As he was growing up, I would only have given Zippy the Travelin’ Boy break-even odds that I would let him live to adulthood. He was the most stubborn kid I’d ever met and almost never used those powers for good.

Fortunately for us all, I was able to restrain those homicidal urges and even filled in the suspiciously shallow grave I dug on the sly in the back yard. He’s still stubborn and more than a little of a know-it-all, but he’s learning to actually listen to people with different opinions and has actually been known to listen to the advice from others without disdain.

All of which makes for a great opponent when I want to have an argument or refine my own opinion by seeing how it holds up in combat. His quick wit and merciless attack posture are the ultimate test of survivability.

As much as I enjoyed snuggling with the little dude when he was, in fact, little, I’m finding that I’m enjoying even more being around the young man he’s becoming.

Happy birthday, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy. We love you!

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Pajama Party

I could spend every day in my pajamas.

But I don’t.

As a stay-at-home dad, I don’t have to dress up to go to work because I’m already at work and, for most of the years I was the SAHD (not really sad with a Southern accent like it looks), wearing a tie would only give the little dudes something else to grab.

As a freelance writer and editor, I don’t have to change out of my pajamas because most of my work takes place at the computer screen.

Heck, I’ve even seen people wearing pajamas when they’re out shopping or getting the groceries. So wearing pajamas out and about is now a pretty mainstream thing.

I, however, do change out of my pajamas. I do get dressed every morning in clothing different from what I wore the day before. And, no, I’m not expecting a medal for it. I merely wanted to set the scene before I got into this.

I recently read an article on the Huffington Post by Aaron Gouveia. He’s a dad who now is able to work from home instead of going in to an office.  And he decided it would be okay to wear his pajamas while walking his kid to the bus stop. The occasion of his column, though, was sparked by having to defend this practice from his wife, who objected thoroughly.

The only ones out at the bus stop are our neighbors on the other side of our duplex. We live on a quiet street with hardly any traffic, so it’s not like I’m setting up shop in Times Square. But even if we did live in a highly trafficked area, I mean — THEY’RE PAJAMAS!!

I told her I work hard, and up until now I’ve had to get up early and get dressed in button-down shirts and slacks with dress shoes to head into the office. The beauty of working from home, I told her, is the ability to just laze around like a bum while I do my work. It doesn’t make sense to me to get dressed just to go out to the bus stop, to impress our neighbors (who don’t care what I look like) and 15 elementary school kids who are too busy talking to notice my Patriots PJs.

Sorry, dude, but you’re wrong. Very, very wrong.

The issue here, to me, is that Aaron is confusing what’s good for him with what’s good for everyone else. He might be able to laze around in his pajamas during the day and that’s great. However, no one else wants to see him in his pajamas.

He might assume that the kids on the bus are too busy talking to notice him standing around in his pajamas, but, allow me to assure you, they notice. And they’re saying they notice to Aaron’s young child.

I’m going to have to agree with Aaron’s wife here. People should take a minimal amount of pride in how they look when they go outside and face the world. Yes, I realize that to many folks who have known me for a while this comes as a shock. What can I say? I’ve managed to mature a bit over the years, despite my best efforts otherwise.

Going outside means you’re interacting with other people. I’m not advocating that women must be fully made up and in pressed clothing or men should always have a clean shave and be wearing a tie. Clearly. However, I do suggest the least you can do when you go outside is wear a shirt and some pants.

You might be perfectly comfortable walking around in pajamas, but I assure you that not everyone you meet is nearly as comfortable. This is what it means to live in a society.

We don’t always get to do what we want. We have to sometimes moderate our behavior or appearance, to think of others’ comfort.

Otherwise, I’d probably be lumbering around in a gorilla suit most days. And no one wants that.

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You Can’t Skateboard In Cowboy Boots

by Richard

So it seems that time has worked its magic once again. The cowboy dude in our house is now a sk8 punk.

Last year, Zippy the Monkey Boy was all about the cowboy look. He clomped around in cowboy boots, wore the checkered shirts, lusted in his heart for a cool Stetson hat and had a noticeably thicker Southern accent. Ah, but time, as is its wont, passed. Our middle little dude is no longer a son of the South, a rider upon the range.

Now, Zippy the Monkey Boy is, and has always been, a sk8 punk. He’s into his new skateboard Santa brought for Christmas and has encased his feet in Vans (the sneaker preferred by sk8 punx in all the fashionable half pipes) and is wearing hoodies and stretchy, woolen hats.

The only thing that hasn’t changed is his close-cropped hair. I’m laying odds that he’ll start growing it out again pretty soon as you don’t see many sk8 punx with short hair.

The funny thing is he says he hasn’t changed. According to Zippy the Monkey Boy, he’s always been this way. He’s always liked skateboards and he still loves his cowboy boots. It’s just that his feet have grown so much there’s no more room for them in the boots. This despite the fact that all his other shoes still fit perfectly.

Actually it’s sort of fun to watch this sort of thing going on.

As (so called) adults, we dudes are already pretty much set in who we are. We have a version of ourselves living in our heads and that’s pretty much who we are no matter how much older we get.

As young dudes, though, Zippy the Monkey Boy and his fellow no-brainers are struggling to find out who they really are. Their in-head version of themselves is constantly changing and their outsides must keep pace with their insides. Sometimes this frantic change can be quite visible, such as trading cowboy for sk8 punk.

While it might be amusing to some dudes (not me, of course, as I always respect the change through which people go and would never make fun of them), this sort of personality try out is of supreme importance to those growing dudes. Trying out new styles and new personalities is how they discover who they truly want to become.

I’ve just got to be supportive and hope Zippy the Monkey Boy’s inner version of himself doesn’t suddenly discover a yen to become a goth as I’m not sure I want to start sharing all my black eyeliner.

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