Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ditched Day

Law Enforcement Officer: Good morning, Rocklin Police Department.

Me: Good morning. I would like to report my child missing.

Law Enforcement Officer: OK, let me get some information from you. When was the last time you saw them?

Me: He drove off about an hour ago.

LEO: OK, was he alone?

Me: Yes.

LEO: OK, do you know where he was going?

Me: Yes, Folsom Lake.

LEO: OK, what is the reason you believe he’s missing? Do you think he didn’t make it to the lake?

Me: Oh, no, he made it. I can see him on Life360. He’s there now.

LEO: Um… so you know where he is?

Me: Yes. The Granite Bay beach. At the end of Douglas Boulevard.

LEO: OK. I don’t think I understand. If you know where he is, then he’s not missing.

Me: Well, he’s missing from school. He’s a senior and it’s “senior ditch day” and he’s supposed to be in class, but he’s having fun at the lake instead.

LEO: OK, well, sir, we don’t handle incidents of truancy unless we are asked to intervene by the school, so there’s not much we can do here.

Me:

LEO: Sir?

Me: I’d like to report a large party, where I suspect there might be some underage drinking.

LEO: Would this party be at the Granite Bay beach?

Me: Yes, can you dispatch officers to break it up, please?

LEO: Sir, if your son is skipping school without your consent, there is not much we’re able to do about it.

Me: Oh, we told him it was OK. He’s a good kid and he has good grades, so we said it was his choice if he wanted to participate in the ditch day.

LEO:

Me: So, can you guys get over there and break up the party?

LEO: I’m confused. You OK’d him to go, but you don’t want him there?

Me: I’ve been in meetings all morning.

LEO: With the school?

Me: No, with work. You know, Zoom calls. Meetings. Work.

LEO: OK?

Me: Right! It’s like, wait a second. What’s going on here?

LEO: You lost me.

Me: Well, why do I have to be stuck here working while he’s at the lake when he’s supposed to be at school?

LEO: Um, sir, are you saying that it’s not fair?

Me: Exactly!

LEO: Sir, there is nothing we can do about this. Besides, he’s in the town of Granite Bay. We don’t even have jurisdiction there.

Me:

LEO: Sir?

Me: I’d like to report a stolen car.

LEO: Excuse me?

Me: Yeah, it was stolen from my house here in Rocklin, so you guys can handle that, right?

LEO: Are we talking about your son’s car, sir?

Me: Yes, exactly.

LEO: You told me he drove it to Folsom Lake and is currently there.

Me: Well, technically, I didn’t actually see him drive away in it. Like I said, I’ve been stuck in my office all morning.

LEO: Sir, …

Me: All I really know is that his phone is at Folsom Lake and his car is missing from the driveway. I think we have reasonable suspicion to believe foul play might be a factor. Can you guys dispatch some officers? I’m thinking…

LEO: Let me guess. We should start our search at the Granite Bay beach.

Me: Exactly!

LEO: Sir, I’m going to hang up now.

Me: Aw, c’mon, man! This is so uncool. Fine.

LEO: You have a good…

Me: Oh, wait! One more thing.

LEO: What is it?

Me: Do you have the number for the Granite Bay police?

LEO:

Me: Hello?

 

 

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

You Crazy Bunch of Mothers

If the cops didn’t get called on your Mother’s Day brunch, then you might be hanging around with the wrong mothers.

At least, that’s what I’m told.

I went to a perfectly normal Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday. We had fresh fruit and quiche. I was up in Oregon, visiting my parents and my oldest sister, and our brunch was lovely. I then got on a plane to come home to what I thought was going to be a Mother’s Day tri-tip dinner, cooked by my sons. I came home to something a little different than that.

You see, our good friends down the street hosted a neighborhood potluck Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday morning, and I was thankful for that. I was going to be out of town for the morning, so I was happy my wife and boys would be down having a nice time at our friends’ house. The plan was for them to go enjoy the brunch, then I would get back into town and we’d have dinner all together.

I kinda got the impression the plan was changing when I got to the airport in Portland and started texting my wife and boys about what time I would be arriving. No one texted me back. I had sent a long string of unanswered texts by the time I was in my seat being told to turn off my mobile device or switch it to airplane mode.

I had a text from my wife waiting for me when I landed at 6:00 pm, saying that we were probably going to hold off on cooking the tri-tip for tonight.

I arrived home to an empty house and the sounds of laughter and the pop-pop-pop of street pickleball coming from the other end of our little road. I threw my suitcase in the house and strolled down to what turned out to be one of the most epic Mother’s Day brunches ever held.

It had started at 9:00 am, and was still going STRONG at 7:00 pm. There was a live garage band – courtesy of two slightly intoxicated musical dads with acoustic guitars – along with a pool party, a hot tub party, and a cornhole tournament in progress in the back yard, and a pickleball game in the street in front of the house where the moms playing were required to do shots whenever the total score became evenly divisible by five. (It was a loose rule). A large cheering section in lawn chairs had gathered, and I’m pretty sure some of them had wandered in from other neighborhoods.

I’m not sure what kind of traditional brunch food was served in the morning, but they had been through all of that, then onto lunch, and by the time I showed up the party was knee-deep in take-out hot wings and delivery pizzas. My wife was one of the lawn chair spectators, waiting her turn for another pickleball match, and when she saw me she gleefully told me the cops had been called on them.

Our friends’ house sits at the end of our street, between two tee’s of adjoining streets, so it happens that very few cars ever actually drive past the front of their house. You are either turning off our street before you get there, or you would have come around from the other way if you needed to be on the street at the end of ours.

This low-traffic phenomenon makes it a near-perfect spot for a street pickleball court. When you bring the net out, the court sits lengthwise with the road, up against their sidewalk, so there is a full car-width lane to get past it on the other side if you happen to need to drive past their house. Someone – and no one knows if it was a neighbor, a pedestrian, a motorist, or a member of a tennis league – called the police to complain about the “illegally closed off road,” or the “crazy out of control street party,” or something. No one was really sure, including the cop.

Apparently, the cop pulled up, took one look at what was going on, and just shook his head in the “I can’t believe some idiot wasted my time and the taxpayers’ money to have me respond to a Mother’s Day brunch” kinda way. Before he left, he wished all the ladies a Happy Mother’s Day and dutifully reminded all the pickleballers of the obvious, “try not to get hit by any cars.”

Anyway, the music continued, the pool party raged on, and when the sun went down, the floodlights came out to make sure darkness wouldn’t slow down the pickleball tournament, or the mom’s mid-game shots.

My wife, who isn’t as young as she used to be, tapped out at about 9:30 pm, with over twelve hours of Mother’s Day brunch under her belt. I’m a full five months younger than her, so I was able to make it another fifteen minutes or so before I had to pack it in and head for home.

Anyway, happy belated Mother’s Day to all you wonderful ladies out there doing the hard work! And hey, if you don’t have Mother’s Day plans for next year, I’d highly recommend coming by our street. The brunches are legendary.

In fact, it’s possible that Sunday’s brunch is still going on. I left before it broke up, and I haven’t gone back down to check.

It wouldn’t surprise me.

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Cinco de Ulysses Patrick’s Day - Repost

Sunday was Cinco de Mayo, an American celebration of non-American origins, much like St. Patrick’s Day, and Christmas for that matter. Pretty much all of our holidays are imported, now that I think about it, except the Fourth of July and obviously, Talk Like a Pirate Day. And if you have enough rum and fireworks, those two can really start to blend together… Anyway, we got “lucky” this year with the Cinco de Mayo “holiday” landing on a Sunday, which is certainly better than a Tuesday, but still not ideal.

That’s because Cinco de Mayo is the St. Patrick’s Day of May. Both are on a fixed calendar date, which makes no sense, and we don’t get work off for either of them, which makes even less sense. Both have some amount of green added to the beer, and no one from the holidays’ countries of origin celebrates them. Here in the good ol’ USA, however, we embrace them like they were the Kentucky Derby or New Years. And much like New Years, no one knows what we’re celebrating or why. But we’re all Irish for one day in March, and we’re all Mexican for uno dia en Mayo.

The overwhelming problem is that the only people who get to celebrate these two “holidays” with any regularity are students. Specifically, college kids and elementary schoolers. The college kids use the days as excuses to party, and the elementary schools use them as excuses to make leprechaun traps, Mexican flags, and most importantly, eat cookies.

Meanwhile, we adults have to wait until March 17th or May 5th land on a Saturday before we get to party anymore, and that only happens once every 365 years, if my math is correct. Why should the students get to have all the fun? Why shouldn’t the parents get to participate?

We used to have fun on St. Patrick’s Day. We used to drink green beer and actively look for other college kids of the opposite sex who weren’t wearing green so we could pinch them, as is the standard custom.

We used to have fun on Cinco de Mayo. We used to drink Corona with lime and eat discounted tacos by the truckload while wearing giant sombreros, and actively look for other college kids of the opposite sex who weren’t wearing green so we could pinch them, as is the standard custom.

Did we know why we did any of this? Of course not. Did we care that we didn’t know? Of course not. We cared about doing our part to uphold centuries of fake traditions. We cared about beer with the appropriate green holiday additive. We cared about pinching cute members of the opposite sex. We cared.

I’m tired of being left out. I’m tired of not caring. I want to care again. We should get to party, too. It’s only right, since we’re the ones paying for all of this anyway. Why shouldn’t we get these days off work?

Why? I’ll tell you why. Probably because someone still needs to pay for all this, that’s why. But are we going to let that stop us? Heck no! There are plenty of other days during the year we can work. Although, we do already have a lot of holidays…

OK, let’s compromise. We could combine St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo into one holiday to minimize the work stoppage but still have some fun. What do you say?

I knew you’d be on board!

Ladies and gentlemen, I officially propose a new national holiday.

We will compromise on the month and have the new holiday in April, since it has always been a travesty that we don’t get April 27th off for President Ulysses S. Grant’s birthday either. We will anchor it around that date but it will need to float, of course, to always fall on a Friday so this party is a three-day weekend. It’s only fitting to include Grant, since he really should be the patron saint of these two holidays anyway. You may not know this, but in addition to being a war hero and a Roman god, Ulysses was a prolific inventor and is actually responsible for creating, among many other things, the taco, green beer, the piñata, and Ireland.

We shall call the new holiday either Dia de St. Mayo Patrick de Grant, or Cinco de Ulysses Patrick’s Day. We can vote on that later.

As far as logistics go, we will simply combine all the current fake holiday traditions into one big three-day weekend of awesome.

The holiday uniforms can remain mostly undefined, but should include the required holiday colors; green, white and red, with an obvious emphasis on green and large sombreros.

Mariachi bands will need to shift their focus a little and include bagpipes and plaid. Irish heel-clicking salsa dancing with be a natural follower to the new groove.

The main holiday beverage will obviously be green Corona with yellow lemon wedges instead of limes to signify lucky gold. Cuervo gold tequila will remain unchanged, since it satisfies both holiday motifs. As an alternative to Mexican tequila, Irish mojitos will be made out of crushed clover and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Red, white, and green tortilla chips will be served with cabbage salsa, and children across the land will spend the new holiday smacking leprechaun-shaped piñatas filled with gold coin chocolates and corned beef taquitos.

We can work out the rest of the details later. I’m not really sure who’s in charge of new holiday creation over in D.C., so if one of you could forward this on to them, that’d be great.

I’m going to get back to my green Corona.

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Sports Can Be Challenging

I have the honor and the privilege of getting to be the stadium announcer for my sons’ high school lacrosse teams. It’s a lot of fun, and I get the best seat in the house up in the press box, but it also comes with some challenges.

The first challenge comes from my wife, who has never been a stadium announcer and therefore doesn’t believe that I need to be at the field an hour before the first game starts. I think her objection is that I should still be working and making money, but I think we can all agree, that’s not as fun as being at the field.

Pronunciations are one of my biggest challenges, which makes sense based on our last name. I don’t come across too many atrocities like “Schmatjen” on other teams, but every squad has its tough names, and if that kid scores a goal or does something cool, I want Pronav Fananaziria or Stephan Koch to hear their name pronounced correctly.

(That’s one of the things I’m doing an hour before the game starts, and it is a tad dismaying how many coaches don’t know how to pronounce their own players’ last names. If you coach, please be better than that!)

Another challenge arises with the music. I get to be in charge of what music gets played, which is like a dream come true, because I think I was really supposed to be a radio DJ, but accidentally ended up in engineering somehow. Issues arise in two main areas with the music.

First, I have to deal with some of the players who try to have an opinion about the music. I tell them two things: A) Your music is about 95% terrible, and B) the music I play is for the people in the stands who are paying for all of this. You just concentrate on not sucking out there on the field, OK?

The second issue I have with the music is finding songs that aren’t about sex, drugs, and/or have more than one cuss word that I can bleep out with my cool music software. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the songs I’d never play at a lacrosse game, but I am of the opinion that if an adult is playing music at a school event, that music should be clean. It is surprising and worrisome, when we travel to other schools, how many adults don’t subscribe to that same opinion.

Multi-tasking is one of my biggest challenges, because I am in charge of the scoreboard, the game clock, the music, and announcing who did what. That can present problems, because I am a man and therefore my brain is only capable of doing one thing at a time.

I have found that coaches and refs have a low tolerance for the game clock not starting and stopping correctly on each and every whistle. They also frown upon Taylor Swift continuing to sing “Shake it Off” after the game has restarted, which is a no-no.

I’ve also found parents tend to have an almost zero tolerance level of their son’s goal not being recorded on the big scoreboard within milliseconds after it has occurred.

Speaking of parents in the stands – they account for my biggest challenge of all. Specifically, the problem involving me not being able to move the press box. It’s a three-room building, bolted down to the top of the stadium. I can’t make it budge.

In lacrosse, we all sit on the same side of the field, in what is known as the “home side” by all the adorable football parents who can’t fathom having to ever be near a parent from the opposing team. The idea, which is a smart one, is to keep the players on the opposite side of the field from their parents. That way, the players will get directions from their coaches who understand the game, instead of from their parents, who do not.

Roughly 85% of youth lacrosse parents don’t agree with the coaches’ decisions or the refs’ calls, but to be fair, those parents don’t understand the rules of lacrosse. That’s because it’s a fast and confusing sport. One would hope that they would recognize their lack of understanding and either learn more or be quiet, but that doesn’t seem to happen very often.

Now, if you are in the stands and an obnoxious parent happens to sit down next to you, you are able to move away from them. I don’t have that option up in the box. And, to my great dismay, directly under my open press box window seems to be the preferred spot for obnoxious parents. I don’t know why. I’m just lucky, I guess.

I hear all the usual things you’re expect, like aggressively disagreeing with blatantly correct penalty calls, and instructions to players that make no sense in any sport, let alone lacrosse. But last night, I heard something new.

We had our first game of the section championship rounds last night, and two parents from the opposing team were sitting in the coveted obnoxious zone under my window. Our lacrosse games are twelve-minute quarters, and I’m not lying when I tell you that the mom never once stopped yelling something toward the field for the full forty-eight minutes of regulation, not even counting time outs. She got full credit for stamina.

She hit all the usual highlights, but at one point in the second quarter she brought the awesome. Apparently fresh out of non-helpful technical directions or call disagreements, she briefly switched to nutrition and sports med.

From the top of the stands, in the middle of the action, seventy-five yards away from the players’ sideline on the other side of the field, she busted out, “Hydrate! You guys need to hydrate! Come on! Drink some water!”

I’m not making that up.

Some nights are more entertaining than others.

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen

 

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