When I was about 10 years old, I went to an Atlanta Braves baseball game with my late grandfather, Ray Howland. And while I don’t remember a thing about the actual game, I do remember a group of guys about two sections over trying desperately to get a “wave” going (you know, the kind where everyone stands up and shouts when it comes your way…). Naturally, this was far more worthy of my attention than the game. And to their credit, these guys eventually got a wave going all the way around the stadium. A resounding win for the drunks in Section 314.
Because I watched this wave develop, I felt unusually invested. I was especially proud to stand up and shout each time it went by. But my grandfather just sat there unfazed. “Why aren’t you standing up?” I asked with an accusatory tone. His response, uttered on a day which will forever live in infamy, was as follows: “I hate the wave. It’s obnoxious.”
If you’re wondering how I took this, well, here’s a clue: he might as well have told Tinkerbell he didn’t believe in fairies. I mean seriously, who doesnt love the wave?
Well, this whole interaction became even more impactful to me about four years ago at a baseball game I went to with my own father. Wouldn’t you know it, another wave got started. And wouldn’t you know it, my dad echoed the very sentiments of his father before him: the wave is “distracting” to those “actually watching the game.” I couldn’t believe it. Et tu?
Whatever my grandfather had, my dad now had as well. And I knew it was only a matter of time before I got it as well. Or, as a famous king once declared: “Simba, you must take your place in the Circle of Life.”
Well, this weekend marked my 10 year high school reunion. The event itself was incredible. Indeed, I went to an awesome high school and graduated with a group of people that I hope to stay in touch with for the rest of my life. Mandatory “Go Warhawks!”
But the occasion provided me with an opportunity to contrast “High School Me” with “Current Me”. And upon reflection, I feel I am heading in the direction of my forefathers a bit faster than I originally hoped. Which is why I now present to you several observations about how I’ve changed since high school, and why I fear my love for the “wave” may expire in the coming years. Here goes nothing.
— I drink diet soda now – something I promised myself I would never do. But, diet soda has fewer calories (true) and the same great taste (false). So there.
— I am truly bothered when lights are left on unnecessarily in the house, or when the heat is going and the door is left open. My wife recently caught me asking her (in an annoyed voice) why it was necessary that we have “every single light in the house on at once.” Coming soon: “this is why we can’t have nice things,” and “if you keep it up I’m turning this car around.”
— A lot of popular music just doesn’t make sense to me. I was in the car recently flipping through radio stations and stumbled upon a catchy song in which I could have promised you the guy was saying “Open Condom Style.” How inappropriate! (Google assures me it’s actually: “Oppan Gagnam Style”). And “party rock is in the house tonight?” What does that even mean?
— Speaking of music, I kind of actually like the song “Call Me Maybe.” This is something I would never have admitted in high school. And since I’m making confessions: I always secretly enjoyed listening to the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and 98 Degrees. Oh yea, and I shed a tear at the end of “Titanic.” Conscience cleared.
— I was baptized and became a follower of Jesus Christ. This is something that I won’t joke about because it’s a pretty big deal. The changes in my life this has sparked are too numerous to list on this blog, but here’s a subtle one: I’ve noticed that substituting the word “blessed” for the word “lucky” gives me instant Christianity street cred (something I’m always looking for).
Ex1: “I am so lucky blessed to have finally found my keys.”
Ex2: “I am so lucky blessed that the Redskins covered the spread against the Giants.”***
***Obligatory disclaimer: I don’t gamble. Oh wait dang it, I forgot about my fantasy football leagues. So I guess I do kind of gamble…
— I watch shows that would embarrass the high school version me. Food Network, HGTV, you name it. “Is this woman gonna finish icing those cupcakes before time runs out? The suspense is killing me!” In fairness, getting my wife to watch college basketball with me is something I have had to earn. I do this by banking hours of TLC, Army Wives, and Christmas movies, and then cashing them in when my Indiana Hoosiers are on. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.
— When it rains, I almost instinctively declare that “the grass could really use it.” Enough said.
— I have hit the point in my life where the cost of going to the movies is a deal-breaker – something that never mattered in high school. “12.50 for a movie?!?!” When I was a kid, we walked to school uphill both ways in the snow. And movies were only $6.
— I am genuinely excited for my friends when they post things on Facebook like “(insert baby name) just went pee-pee in the potty!” And while most people think Daylight Savings Time is awesome cuz it gives them an extra hour in the fall, I know that it throws everything off with the kid’s sleeping schedule. Basically, it’s evil!
— Per family tradition, I leave early from concerts and sporting events to ensure that I won’t get stuck in traffic. This is a classic old man operation. So while you’re enjoying the second song of Tim McGraw’s encore, don’t be surprised if you see me whispering “we’re gonna be stuck here for hours” to myself while I frantically scan the parking lot. Yup.
— In 2002, my precious little sister (10 years younger) watched Barney. Now she’s in a sorority. Plus, I recently talked to a college student who had never seen a single episode of “Saved By The Bell.” So yea, I’m getting old.
— Lastly: I’m a Republican now. If anyone by chance has the ability to time-travel back to 2002, please do not tell this to the high school version of me. It would devastate a big-time Al Gore fan.
There are many more examples of my old-manhood. But there’s hope for me, isn’t there? I mean, I still rock out to Michael Jackson. I still love wearing awesomely tacky American Flag clothes. AND I STILL LOVE THE “WAVE”!
Well, one thing’s for sure: I am going to cling on to 29 years old with all my might. Because 30 brings a whole new level of “you’re getting old” that I’m not sure I’m ready for. Heck before I know it, I’ll be RSVP’ing to my 30 year high school reunion, and by then my case of “Grumpy Old Manhood” will be fully incurable.
One of the symptoms? Explaining to my grandchildren that the “wave” is quite distracting to people trying to watch the game. Can’t wait.