How about I refrain from pointing out absurdities and foibles for a minute and write about three of the many things that did not disappoint me. So many times we get let down by experiences because of expectations or hype or someone’s opinion. But every once in awhile, they are damn right.
The Grand Canyon – We stopped for a few hours when we moved cross country. It was clear day, not too hot but completely clear. This unbelievable drop appeared out of nowhere after we entered the park. I guess that is the first impression. There was no buildup. It’s not like mountains before a mountain range. You are teased with foothills and tastes of what’s to come. The Grand Canyon was a shock. Pull up, park and walk ten feet to a 6,000 foot drop.
Birds flew a thousand feet below us. We could see Utah from our perch on the south ridge. It was tough to decipher tree from shrub and path from the Colorado River. Everything you have ever heard about how striking the experience is rings true. Even for someone raised at sea level with an unfriendly relationship with heights, I could not stop breathing it in. Within about twelve hours from that moment, most of my family would be stricken with a crippling stomach flu that would ruin our entire stay in Las Vegas, but for that morning in Arizona, it was worth it. Nearly.
Beck – Odelay – This year was 1996. Music was officially in the toilet and I was stuck at a thankless boring job. (Whoa! Déjà vu!) I read in both Spin and Rolling Stone that that dude who put out “Loser” in 1994 released an album that was actually good, top to bottom. Not just good, but 10/10 and five stars –type good. I could not believe it. I had to buy the thing and hear it for myself. (This is back before everyone downloaded or stole their music.) I popped it into my stereo at home and was instantly floored. It was a Beck version of Paul’s Boutique; not just because of the same production team, but for the boldness and textured sound. And, for me, it came out of nowhere. I like that. Surprise goes a long way with me.
I listened to it three times in a row the next day at work (on my Discman!). I never do that. It is still one of my top ten favorites, probably in part because I never saw it coming.
Being a father – Okay, a little corny. I could do a few essays on this, to be sure. There are a bunch of unexpected perks to being a dad. I’ll discuss one.
When you are a nerd like me, you love to know things. Its what we do. We collect and interpret data. Most of us like to share, and few of us are any good at it. Once your child becomes accustomed to you knowing some answers, they ask questions. I love to be asked shit. I love it. I know the answers a lot of times, too. When I don’t, my kids run to the computer to fill me in. Sure , it can get burdensome at times. I know I’ll miss that when they have the audacity to grow up and move out.
Like today. I’m taking the boys to see Star Trek for an outing this weekend. They have no idea what those shows or movies are about other than “that dude with the pointy ears has green blood.” Now I’m not a huge Trek fan, but they ran the movies on cable in the 80’s enough for me to learn quite a bit. So I was able to fill them in to a major American cultural bookmark. It’s like showing them their first sunset or dolphin or helicopter, but with more Klingons.