Tag Archives: Twitchy

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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Crawling Away To Lick Our Wounds

In the middle of a heart attack, I wanted only one thing*– keep it a secret and don’t tell my mom, dad or sister.

So, naturally, as soon as I was under and getting the arteries of my heart scoped and scoured of clots, my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Doing Things Her Own Way, immediately called all of my family and blabbed the whole thing.

In my case, I wanted to keep the heart attack a secret because I didn’t want to worry anyone and because I didn’t want to have to deal with the inevitable smothering care that would result from my family being worried for my health.**

I was taken to task for even contemplating the idea of possibly trying to keep what happened a secret from La Familia for even a moment. Worrying about other members and caring for them is what, I was told repeatedly while being beaten with a fluffed pillow that was supposed to be supporting my head, La Familia is supposed to do.

It turns out, though, that I’m not the only person who likes to keep an illness a secret.

I know two people around my age who have been fighting different sorts of cancer. Neither of them made any kind of announcement and, in fact, tried to strictly limit the number of people who knew about the disease and their fight against it.

Which meant, to me, that the urge to suffer in secret was a thing only dudes had to fight. And, yes, I was wrong again.

My dad’s wife recently beat a bout of cancer of her own. In talking to her, she said what she wanted most was for no one to have known so she could get better on her own and not have to keep talking about it to everyone who found out about it.

I think she pretty much hit it on the head. It’s not that I didn’t want people to care for me in my extremity, but I wanted them to do it on my terms. That is, allow me to say, “Enough. Stop talking about it and stop treating me like an invalid.” Instead, once people know, you have no ability to turn the course of this river of regret flowing through your life.

Or at least, you have no ability to do so without making folks feel bad and I didn’t want to do that because it would then have made me feel bad and that was sort of the opposite of what was supposed to be going on.

As far as I was concerned, the privacy I wanted was perfectly reasonable. However, having gone through something similar on the other side this time, I’m forced to admit that there is something to healthy-ish side of the argument.

When someone you love is hurting, the need to do something —

Helping others is ingrained in our genes, but so is the need to be left alone to lick our wounds. It's a conundrum, yeah?
The Dalai Lama is a nice dude.

anything — to help is very strong in most of us. There’s nothing most of us can do medically to help our loved one, so we do what we can.

We make meals. We clean the house. We walk the dog. We . . . get in the way. Because, if any of you dudes are like me, there’s only so much niceness directed at me that I can possibly stand.

When people are nice to me on a continuous basis, I start to get itchy and twitchy and wonder when the anvil is going to drop down out of the sky. And, yes I’m aware that speaks to some sort of deep-seated issue with my being able to be happy. Bite me.

So, I guess the takeaway from today is that, when you’re hurting, allow other people to help you, even if only for a little while. It will make your life a bit easier and it will make them feel better for doing what they can to ease your burden.

Just, you know, do it somewhere else.

Footnotes & Errata

* Other than live, of course. I mean, that was a clear number one with a bullet on my wish list.
** I did have reason to be worried. My mom once mailed me chicken soup when I was away at college and had a cold. Yes, seriously. Very loving. Only slightly psychotic. I also figured this would be the opportunity my sister would take to pay me back for all the years of torture help I gave her as a child.

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Watch This

So I was talking to a younger dude the other day when someone walked up and asked him what time it was. He lifted his left hand, turned it over and then told the other dude what time it really was. The odd thing was that he didn’t check his watch to get the time. What he was checking was his cell phone.

Lately I’m noticing that more and more of the younger type folks are leaving their watches — if they own one — at home and doing just fine without them.

Myself, I know I get more than a little twitchy if I don’t have a watch on my left wrist. I’ve gotten used to having it there over a lifetime’s habit. On those few occasions where I don’t have a watch because it’s getting fixed, I feel rather naked, even though I’ve got a cell phone with a digital clock on it.

I think what we’re seeing is a generational shift away from watches as necessity and toward watches that are seen in the same light as a bracelet or ring — as jewelry or an accessory.

I think as our generation starts shuffling off this mortal coil, we’re going to be watching the demise of the watch.

— Richard

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