Monday, November 30, 2009

Another one gone

For the second time this year, I have lost a dear friend and coaching mentor. Coach Jim passed away Friday morning after suffering a heart attack. He was 59 and a single father of three young men that I have seen grown up over the last 13 years.

Despite coaching at different schools and never working together, Coach and I developed a strong friendship that really blossomed over the last year. He retired two years ago from football, having coached his last game against my team. We won that game 42-20 and it was the only time that I actually felt a little bad about winning.

Coach and I spent many nights sitting next to each other on bar stools, having a few beers while talking football. He was a wealth of knowledge and was never apprehensive of sharing what he knew with an opposing coach.

We were two of three coaches who are at the bar often together. We were like court jesters, making others at the bar laugh with our friendly banter that never seemed to stop. It was great fun among three single men who leaned on each other during rough times on and off the field.

There was no tougher time than when one of the three - Coach Bill - passed away in March at 47. Coach Bill worked for me in the late '90s and then went and worked for Coach Jim before he retired in 2007. After Jim's retirement, Bill worked for me in 2008.

Coach Jim and I were devistated with the loss of our friend. However, we were forced to go into survival mode as we - along with the owner of the bar - had to plan a memorial service for Bill. It was beatifully done and had more than 100 coaches from the area attend.

Ironically, it was just last Wednesday that Coach Jim and I were at the bar and briefly talked about it being the first Thanksgiving without Bill. Two days later, Coach Jim was gone as well.

I can only hope that the two of them are up there together now, looking down at me and cracking jokes at my expense. I wouldn't want it any other way.

(Here is a news report on his loss in a Los Angeles area newspaper last Saturday.)

Forever Coach Jim's spot at the bar

Monday, November 23, 2009

Should it stay or go?

About the biggest decsion I am going to have to make during my week off is whether or not I should shave my beard off. I stopped shaving midway through the football season after losing a bet with the team.

The season is thankfully over. So, should the beard stay or go? That is the question. Think it over and get back to me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My testicles and me

Hi. I'm Coachdad. I stop by every now and then and share a story or two. I usually throw something on here that relates to me and the crazy little girls that are with me when they are not with their mother.

Not this time, though. This isn't your typical post from me. Don't you feel lucky? Well, don't.

I want and need to write about my balls.

Those two little fuckers have given me so much grief over the last three years. And, this time I am not even talking about the four girls that they helped produce.

Seems my testicles don't like when another man starts touching them. I can't blame them. I wasn't all that fond of a 74-year-old man playing with my balls either.

However, if 30 minutes of his pulling, prodding, and cutting into my sack meant that I would be free of the worries of fathering another child, then have at it Doc. Do whatever you want with them, just buy me lunch the next time we see each other on the golf course.

The procedure wasn't all that bad. It was a little uncomfortable, but certainly not painful. Walking out of his office, I felt free to drop my seed anywhere without the worries if it developing into anything other than another relationship that would go wrong.

After three days of limping around, I was back to normal and ready to take them out for a test drive. Satisfied literally and figuratively, I was content with my decision and proud of what I thought was one of the first times that I actually acted like a responsible adult.

Fast-forward six months with me if you will.

It was Christmas morning in 2006 and I woke up to four little girls crawling all over me in my bed. I got up and started walking into the living room to watch them open their gifts when a sharp pain started shooting up the right side of my abdomen. From there, the pain turned into a dull, pounding sensation that never went away, only to be interrupted by more shots of pain.

Two hours later and after dropping the girls off at their Mom's house, I drove to the hospital and began to wait in a overcrowded emergency waiting room. After 45 minutes, I was led into triage and was told that I wasn't suffering from a appendicitis attack and that I should go back to the waiting room and wait to undergo some tests.

Sitting for 15 minutes and knowing that I had much to do before heading to my then fiance's house for Christmas dinner, I left the hospital confident that I wasn't going to die in the next 24 hours.

I didn't die that day, but I fucking wanted to after I found the source of my pain in a bathroom at the fiance's house. Unzippping my pants to piss, I saw what is and will always be the scariest thing I have ever looked at.

My right testicle didn't look like a testicle. It was three times it's normal size and decorated in a deep red and purple color. How the hell did I not see this plum-looking thing earlier?

I hobbled out of her house, drove back to the hospital, sat in the waiting room, went back into triage, underwent an ultrasound on my boys (which I actually enjoyed), and then finally got an answer from a young female doctor who looked like she just got out of medical school.

"You have a condition called Epididymitis," she said.

"Ok. How did I get it and what can I do to get rid of it?"

"It's an infection that is associated with syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV. We can't test you for those here, so you need to go see your family doctor. You are free to go home now."

What? Merry Fucking Chritmas to you, too. Syphilis, gonorrhea, or HIV? Are you kidding me? Can't wait to call the fiance and tell her the great news.

I didn't tell her that that night, instead I went straight to Dr. Fuck-Your-Balls-Up the next morning with my medical report from the prior night. As soon as he glanced at the report, he looked at me and laughed.

"Relax, Brett. She was correct on her diagnosis, but not how you got it. Read this pamphlet while I go and get you some antibiotics."

It was a pamphlet that dealt with vesictomies and complications that could result from the procedure. The first one listed was epididymitis and it said:

"One of the more common of the vasectomy complications, epididymitis is a condition which occurs when the larger tube behind the testicle, connected to the vas, becomes inflamed and swollen. The application of heat and the use of anti-inflammatory medication with or without antibiotics usually clear this up within a week."

What the pamphlet didn't say is that it can come back every six months or so. Twice a year I am reminded of having my balls played with by an elderly man.

If you ever see a 35- to 40-year-old man in Southern California in obvious pain and hobbling quickly after his girls in a mall, or a park, or anywhere... take solace in the fact that he will never have more than the kids he has with him.

And, I will glady take that trade.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Frustrations of fatherhood

(I have been asked by an organization who produces materials, books and magazines for Single Parents to submit posts I have written on what it is like to be a single father. After not much thought because I am quite busy right now, I chose one that may turn some people off. It is one that deals with the frustrations of raising little girls on my own. I love them more than anything, but damn do they drive me nuts.)

I remember being a kid and seeing a commercial with a woman having a rough day with her children. Her only escape was running to her bathroom, drawing a hot bath, and slipping deep inside with a smile spread across her face.

I never got that commercial. What could be so hard about spending the day with your children? You wanted them, didn't you?

Some 30 years and four daughters later, I get it. I get every fucking bit of it.

Kids are nuts and aren't satisfied until you are, too. Do they ever slow down and shut up for two seconds? If I wasn't the one who fed them every meal and snack, I'd wonder what the hell they ate to give them all that energy.

The energizer bunny has got nothing on my kids.

For those who want to offer me advise on how to control my kids or what activities would keep them better occupied without my constant attention, kiss off. I have tried them and they don't work.

Not with these girls. No, they can't seem to do anything without including me or allowing me to do anything without including them. What the hell do they do when I am work? Walk around the house all day calling, "Dad? Dad? Dad?"

They really are pathetic little things. In the four years of being a single father who has his kids fifty percent of the time, I think I can count four or five times that I have gone to the bathroom without one of them walking in and sitting down to have a conversation with me.

It really is a big joke to them. They seem to get so much pleasure out of watching me get so flustered by their actions.

"Dad, your funny. You always make me laugh," said to me today as I threw my hands up in disgust after the four-year spilled her cup of milk for the fourth time at one sitting.

"Yea, Dad," the oldest one piped in. "My teacher always says don't cry over spilled milk."

Alright, that was funny. We all laughed for a few minutes as I wiped up the mess. Again.

But, it was short-lived. They were right back to causing havoc within minutes.

Like I said, I now know what that old commercial was all about. I totally get it.

So, to the Calgon people and their commercials of women jumping into bath tubs, I challenge you to make a commercial for me. Something that includes a keg of beer, endless amount of pizza, big breasted women that don't talk, and a television that doesn't play Disney movies.

Oh, and no kids.

(For those who haven't read my blog, I love my kids more than anything, so forget about leaving me a comment about how lucky I am to have four beautiful girls. I know how lucky I am, so shut the hell up!)

Just for kicks

Time really hasn't been too kind to me lately. So, no new post any time soon. Enjoy a few cartoon's that I received in an email yesterday. Have a great Friday.

Drink anyone?

To scratch, or not to scratch.

Not saying if this reminds me of me.

Don't do it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordful Wednesday

I got home from football practice today and was welcomed into the home by three girls who just got back after two days with their Mom. Looking at them, I couldn't believe how beautiful they have become.

After a few minutes of deciding what we are going to do the rest of the day, I walked into my room and took a glance at the mirror on my closet door. I couldn't believe how old I looked with wrinkles every where and grey hair mixed in a beard that needs cutting.

Still looking in the mirror, I wondered how I could of possibly played a role in my daughters' beauty.

How did these beautiful girls come from this????

For more Wordful Wednesdays go to Seven Clown Circus.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tough to admit

Sitting on a cold concrete floor with my arms crossed and my head buried in my chest, a man twice my size and with blood all over his shirt began to walk toward me.

He stopped a foot away from me to my right, unzipped his pants, and began to pee in a urinal. I could have reached over and touched the dirtiest toilet I had ever seen from the only available place to sit when I was led into the cell in the Los Angeles-area jail.

Never moving my head while he was there, I closed my eyes and began to wonder what brought me to what was no doubt the lowest point in my life. I am lucky enough to be a father of four beautiful girls, have the job that I wanted ever since I was in grade school, and I am generally pretty happy in life.

Yet, here I sit with nine other men, at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, in a 10x10 cell, knowing that five hours later my girls would wake up and ask my roommates why their Dad was not home. That thought made me realize that there was really only one thing that could make me jeopardize everything that I had in my life.

It was alcohol. Like my mother had been all my childhood and my older brother who developed into one as a young adult, I knew then that I had become an alcoholic.


Seven hours earlier, I fought through Los Angeles traffic en route to my 20th high school reunion. Truthfully, I didn't want to go and see my former teammates on what was one of the best football teams our school ever had.

However, I was repeatedly told that I had no choice.

"Brett, you have to go," Jenny said, who I had known since junior high and was the reunion organizer. "You are the football coach of the school we graduated from. How can you not go? Everyone will want to see you!"

That was exactly the reason why I didn't want go. While seeing old friends and sharing stories from the past was intriguing, having to answer questions on why our football team is now struggling was worth avoiding.

"Don't worry about all that..." Jenny continued. "You will have a blast and everyone won't care about what the team is doing now."

She was right. I did have a blast and everyone was more interested in seeing pictures of my girls than how the team was doing.

For five hours, I laughed, shared parenting stories, and reconnected with people I had grown up with and hadn't seen since graduation. And, I drank.

Every time another former teammate or friend walked up to me to talk, they brought with them a drink for me. I didn't buy a drink during the night. But, that didn't stop me from not knowing how many I drank.

Despite going with the intention of not drinking, I never turned down a drink and was enjoying downing beers with my former drinking buddies.

I was funny, loud, and felt pretty damn good about myself. The shy, insecure kid from high school was now the head football coach at the school we all went to and was also the fun guy to be around.

Shortly after 11 p.m., I began to say goodbyes and started to head to my car when I was stopped by one of my oldest friends.

"Hey, are you OK to drive?" he asked while puffing on a cigarette.

"Yea, I am good. But, let me bum a few cigarettes for the drive home. It will keep me busy and awake."

He handed me three cigarettes and I got in my car and jumped on the freeway. I drove for 30 minutes and thought I was driving just as I would if I was sober.

Driving in the fast lane, I finished the first cigarette and flicked it out the window to avoid the smell lingering in my car. Rolling my window back up, I checked the rear view mirror. My heart began to race as I saw the flashing lights of a California Highway Patrol car behind me.

I couldn't believe it. I had no idea how drunk I was, but was pretty sure I was over the legal limit of .08. Moving my car off the freeway and onto an off ramp, I told myself to calm down and act relaxed when the CHP approached my car.

Stopped on the side of the road, I waited as two officers approached both sides of my car.

"License and registration please," said the younger of the two CHPs.

"Here you go, Sir. Everything alright?"

"Well, everything was alright until you threw a cigarette out your window. Have you been drinking?"

I was speechless and didn't know what to say. Stupidly, I lied.

"No, Sir."

"Well, you were driving fine and we pulled you over because of the cigarette. But, I can smell alcohol on you. If you would have told me you had two beers, we would probably have let you go. You need to get out of your car for a sobriety test. Are you willing do that?"

"Yes, Sir. Whatever you want."

I got out and went through test after test. I touched my nose with my eyes closed, counted backwards, and walked foot over foot down an imaginary line. After I was done, the CHPs talked to one another quietly for a moment before asking me to blow into a breathalyzer.

I agreed and waited patiently after blowing the first time. The younger CHP then asked me to blow again. It was after the second time that I began to understand the situation I was in.

"How fucked am I?" I asked as he waited for the results. "Am I fucked? I am so fucked. Damn... I can't believe this. I am so fucked."

He then looked up from the breathalyzer and told me what I didn't want to hear.

"Sir, you blew .0823. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?"


After two slip-ups on consecutive weekends after my arrest, I am proud to say that I have not had a drink in 115 days. It hasn't always been easy, but it also hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be either.

Instead of drinking after football games with other coaches, I drink iced tea or have a non-alcoholic drink. No one harasses me about not drinking, and I can't believe how much easier it is on Saturdays or Sundays at football meetings or practices without suffering from a hangover.

The definition of an alcoholic is different for every alcoholic. I believe I am an alcoholic because I couldn't stop once I got started. Enough said.

I am thankful that my night in jail didn't involve me hurting anyone with my car, didn't cause me to lose my family, my job, or end the relatively new relationship I am in with a wonderful woman. It could have been a lot worse for me and my family.

But, that still doesn't change that fact I am... "Brett, and I am an alcoholic."