Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Father of the Bride (The Wedding Chronicles – Part 1)

From the moment you first hold your infant daughter, you take on a set of very important responsibilities of which you are totally unprepared for.  Raising daughters is often like driving an old truck full of highly combustible materials down a very bumpy road.  You can drive masterfully and still end up smoldering, holding what’s left of the steering wheel.

The responsibilities get easier and less taxing once the teen years are over, but one major responsibility remains. It lurks out in the shadows, waiting to pounce when you least expect it.

Then one day something called a “proposal” is made and if accepted, this transforms you into an almost mystical being which our society labels “Father of the Bride” (FOB).

But this FOB thing is a really odd responsibility. And whenever you are given a title that you did not seek, you can be sure you are being set up in some way.  “Here’s a nice, new, title.  My aren’t you special!” (Stupid sap you are!)  I was told to “save your money” but I was not told how much money to save or what it would be used for.  In reality, nothing can prepare you for the financial beating you are about to receive.
One part that did not cost
any money!

As far as I can tell the primary function of the FOB is to write frequent and sometimes enormous checks for everything and anything wedding related, checks that have many zeroes and commas.   You are playing the role of the superhero “Father of the Bride” and bills and invoices come flying at you from all directions at warp speed.  You must suppress these evil forces by all means necessary, using the super powers at your disposal; checks, credit cards, loans, whatever it takes!

The difficult part is that you are paying large amounts of money for things which under normal circumstance you would never, ever, buy.  Weddings would be so much different if men planned them, which is of course is the reason men do not plan them.  If they did, it would be a disaster.

However, weddings provide the opportunity for the women folk to go slightly insane doing extreme woman-type activities.  The wedding planning is a series of estrogenically driven actions without any limits.  It is estrogen unchained, it is estrogen unencumbered, it is estrogen overflowing!  This results in things such as discussion and planning of every inch of the wedding dress. Women break down the details of the wedding dress similar to the way guys break down the details of a football game.  The dress’s train is discussed with the same enthusiasm and preciseness as a “Cover 2 Defense”.

And this obsession with precise detail is repeated over and over again with the cake, the flowers, the attendants’ clothing, the music, the table settings, the napkins, etc.  The intensity of this effort reaches a crescendo the week of the wedding as the estrogen reaches dangerously high levels.  It was so strong in my house I had trouble breathing. Now in some circumstances high estrogen levels are a good thing (right guys?), but elevated amounts of estrogen always result in men paying some price. And this time the price was enormous.

In the case of wedding planning, each attention to detail results in added expense which the FOB is naturally expected to pay for.  Fresh banana cake! Ba Ching!, Top Deejay! Ba Ching! Special Flowers! Ba Ching. Etc., etc., etc, Ba Ching, Ba Ching, Ba Ching!  That giant sucking sound was the money flowing out of my savings account.

And you have to pay it because it’s your daughter’s wedding, for heaven sake!  It’s like a female version of Mafia demanding extortion.   It’s a chance for payback against the male species and oh you are going to pay up big time.

I used to laugh when reading about FOBs who had to take out home equity loans to pay for a daughter’s wedding.  I thought the poor saps got suckered into paying for a very extravagant affair.  I am no longer laughing.  The average wedding today costs $30,000. Ours was a modest event and the cost of living here is low, so the total was much below that.

Yet, I am not laughing, I am crying. And it had nothing to do with the blessedness of the ceremony. I thought we were being prudent by serving chicken at the reception, but it was Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I figure they had it flown in from France because the Chicken Cordon blew a hole in my bank account! 

And just when I thought it was over, my wife asked me for a blank check on the day of the wedding to cover “extras”. Extras? What could possibly exist that I hadn’t paid for already?  She said maybe this was in case someone drinks too much. Drinks too much? I was raised a Baptist, in my view everyone is going to drink too much! 

As I walked my daughter over the bridge to the gazebo where the vows were exchanged, I tossed 10 pennies out into the lake.  The official story is that I did this to bring the couple good luck.  In reality it was the last 10 cents I had
Where I deposited my last 10 cents!
left, so I figured they may as well have that too.

But I made it through, I did fulfill my obligation and most importantly, none of the checks bounced! And I will be able to quit my new second job at the telemarketing firm as soon as I get my sales volume up.  So if anyone needs some new aluminum siding for their house, please let me know.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Team Is Red, But Not Very Hot

I have been a life-long fan of the Cleveland Indians. From the time I was old enough to understand baseball, I have cheered for The Tribe.  Much of the summers of my youth were spent following their games either in front of the television (beginning with a black-and-white variety) or staring into a transistor radio.  Part of learning to read involved following the exploits of my favorite team every day in the newspaper.

Unfortunately the Indians usually lost.  I don’t know when I came to the realization that my team didn’t play very well. They weren’t just bad, they were awful.  During my “youth”, the team usually ended up near last place and never finished closer than 14 games behind the league leader. One year we finished in third place in our division (still14 games behind) and this was considered “a great year”.

Over these really bad seasons, Indian fans had to deal with the following:

-        For several seasons our best pitcher was an alcoholic and missed a few games due to hangovers (pitching for a team this bad probably drove him to strong drink)

-        Another year our best pitcher was famous for throwing illegal “spitballs” (and we loved it because it was the only way we could get anyone out)

-        We paid a gazillion dollars for a free agent pitcher who lost 20 more games than he won before blowing out his arm.

-        We traded players that didn’t stink (or who later played great) for players that really stunk.  Year after horrible year the roster was full of awful players who really didn’t belong in the majors but found their way onto our team. (If a player was mediocre, then we considered him a star!)

-        The owner thought about moving the team to Tampa, but Tampa didn’t want us, better to have no team then a team this inept.

-        We had players who swapped wives

-        We had a wife who swapped players

-        The most significant game of the era was on “ten-cent” beer night when a drunken riot occurred in the ninth inning causing the Indians to forfeit.  (Even Cleveland rednecks could figure out ten cent beer was a good deal).

     Because the Indians were so bad, my boyhood friends and I each chose an “alternate” team to root for.  A team that didn’t suck, a team that actually won games, a team that would sometimes play games all the way into October, called “playoff” games.  Russell’s team was the Pirates, Freddie took the Reds, and my choice was the Dodgers.  All these teams were National League clubs because it would be blasphemous to cheer for any team that competed against our Indians.   If you don’t believe this, here is visual
evidence.  If you think it is pathetic for a middle-aged guy to dress like a 10-year old kid, you are correct, but that is the wonderment of baseball.

     Even as an adult I have faithfully followed The Tribe, sometimes maybe too faithfully.  The Indians by some incredible fluke actually made the playoffs in 1995 for the first time in 41 years. The first playoff game went into extra innings.  It was getting late and I had an important meeting at church very early the next morning.  I had never witnessed the Cleveland Indians win a playoff game in the 30 years I had cheered for the team, but if I stayed up to watch the end of the game I would have to miss the church meeting. What should I do?
     I still remember praying: “Dear Jesus, please forgive me for what I am about to do and while you are at it, please help the Indians score the winning run, amen.”  And Jesus stepped up big time by blessing the bat of Tony Pena.  I was ecstatic, my pastor much less so.  But even though the Indians were better, they still sucked when it counted.  The Atlanta Braves played horrible in many World Series but they managed to play well enough to beat Cleveland that year. Two years later the Indians made it to the World Series again and lost to an expansion team that had existed for only 4 years.  We are pathetic, we are horrible.  We suck, we suck so incredibly bad.
     However we have one thing that is the best in baseball.  It is our logo.  It is that grinning "Cleveland Indian” who cheers his team on to victory. Okay, so he just cheers.   The Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Braves, etc. may be much better teams but no team has a logo as impressive as the Cleveland Indians.

     And now, and now… some people want to ban this logo because they say it’s offensive and somehow disparages them.  Do you understand why Indians fans might take exception to this? Our logo is our only source of baseball pride, spirit and hope we have left.

    Let’s clear up some misconceptions. It is a logo, not a mascot.  People can laugh at a mascot as he entertains, but people do not laugh at a logo. They call it Chief Wahoo, but he’s not a chief because he only has one feather.  He doesn’t represent the Indian race nor is he a caricature that makes fun of Indians. However, he does represent the Cleveland fans who passionate love their pitiful baseball team.

     Please examine the logo in detail. His skin is bright red. The only people with skin that color have spent too much time at the beach.  His eyes are triangular; no one has eyes anything like this.  His grin is huge. I don’t think having a large, toothy, smile is characteristic of any particular race.  His hair style is similar to Moe of The Three Stooges.  His nose is “hooked”, but it is not out of proportion compared to his eyes and mouth. So the only distinctive feature is the feather.  Imagine the logo without the feather and he looks like my Italian Uncle Lenny, with a sunburn of course.

     And I don’t understand how people can be offended by a single feather when some Indians dress up in full headdress today.  Note: Other people in America also dress up like their ancestors; usually this happens at the end of October.  If this cartoonish logo truly upsets and disparages you, then you are not the brave, strong, people you purport to be.  I think the “Cleveland Indian” represents enormous inner strength.  The poor guy’s team loses repeatedly yet he’s still smiling after 60 years! 
     If you want to argue that the team plays so bad that you don’t want the name “Indians” associated with it, then you have a legitimate beef.  But in this case, you just look more pathetic than this team and that is difficult to do.