I came across this column in the L.A.Times today and thought it was pretty funny. This guy is my favorite columnist and I read him every week.
There is so much to do lately. I still haven't Halloweened the house, and there's a bougainvillea in back that threatens to swallow up the patio furniture.
Who cares? We can always get more patio furniture. And the house already looks sort of haunted, the lawn neglected and spiders in every crease.
Besides, I'd rather go to picture day for the soccer team. We have a 1:30 appointment — us and 400 other teams. "Be there at 1:30 sharp," the league told 4,000 kids. And so we were.
Team photo day is such a fascinating experience: two little tents and total mayhem. It reminds me of the Southwest terminal at LAX, the lines twisting like lovesick anaconda. After a few years of this — or in my case, a few decades — you can visually sort through the confusion and figure out where exactly to line up.
"Over here, men," I say, and the 7-year-olds follow like little ducks.
Once you get over the initial fear, there is a certain majesty to soccer picture day. Any event crawling with parents and kids is something to celebrate. I am a big fan of anarchy and idle time. Which is really why, for me, team photo day might be the best darned day of the year.
"Over here, men," I say, just trying to keep them busy and not poking each other's eyes out.
Have you met my Jaguars? You'd remember if you did.
The first thing we did as a team this season was establish aliases. Matthew became Thunder. Jack became Danger. Ian was dubbed the Terminator.
"I want to be Shark Attacker," Cole said.
"Then that is what you'll be," I said.
Legally changing their names proved to be tougher than we thought. The parents were all really cool about it, but the schools balked. There were health insurance concerns and trust fund issues. Soon, the whole thing turned into a giant wad of grief.
So we decided that, on the soccer field, they'd be known as Terminator, Thunder, Mambo, Lightning, Crush, Gator, etc. At home and at school, they could retain their former identities.
"That's boooooor-iiiiiiiing," Gator noted, and he said it with such authority and conviction that I knew it came directly from the heart.
I explained to the boys that superheroes almost always have twin identities, for that allows them to fit seamlessly into the mortal world.
"It also has numerous tax advantages," I explained.
Behind them, I could see the parents all nodding, especially Kathy (a.k.a. Mambo's Mom).
So, as you can sense, it's been a good season for me and the Mighty Jaguars. We're ahead of USC and UCLA in all of the major polls — but then who isn't?
Best of all, perhaps, is that during picture day, the Jaguars met an older girls team, the Tidal Waves, who seemed friendly at first but eventually shunned our attempts to party with them later, citing previous commitments and such.
"Sorry, gotta floss!" one of them yelled and then they all giggled and turned away.
But you could tell that the 11-year-olds were secretly flattered. It's not every day that you run across such an elite group of 7-year-olds, guys who store food in their cheeks and get stuck upside down in chairs.
Pure fun is what I'm talking about. At a team meeting later, the Jaguars all agreed that they indeed liked girls, but so far only their mothers.
"OK, show of hands, who likes their mother?" I asked, and it was pretty unanimous.
After the photos, which took a mere hour or two, we all marched over to the field where our game was about to take place. On the way, we passed right through the Fall Pumpkin Festival, a big sprawling organism in itself — devoted, as are we, to greed, money and fun.
Killer fest. They had a whole row of bouncy houses, and the petting zoo smelled like soccer socks. Yum. It was also the only fall fest in the area with a poker room and a kissing booth.
"Very progressive," I told a kid we nicknamed Train.
"Can I have cotton candy?" Train asked.
"No," I said.
Honestly, getting the entire Jaguar team safely through the fall festival might be my best coaching accomplishment to date.
We lost only three players.
So if you see a kid who goes by G-Force, and another who calls himself Crush, please contact me immediately. Gator is also out there somewhere, probably over by the petting zoo is my guess.
There is no reward. Only gratitude. I talked to the players, and they agreed that in exchange for their teammates' return, they'd all come to your house and play with your pets. Jump on the couch. Trample your flower beds. Up to you.
Like most men, our skills are limited. But our souls are pure.