One of my favorite sporting events to watch with my girls is the Kentucky Derby. I love the pageantry and the history of the event. They love the horses and the women in the stands with their fancy clothes and hats.
We have started the first Saturday in May off the same way for the last six years. Waking up, grabbing the newspaper, and then all sitting down in the living room choosing our own horse to root on later that day.
The person who picks the winning horse gets to decide what family activity we will do Sunday. Not a bad way to spend a day with your daughters.
This year's race will have even more meaning to my girls and I.
I Want Revenge is the early favorite and a friend of mine happens to own one percent of the horse. He will be at my house Saturday enjoying the race with my girls and I in what should be an exciting day.
All week I have been reading articles on how I Want Revenge has been training and all indications are that he is primed for a big race. The anticipation of watching has been building and my girls are almost as excited as I am.
"How many more days until the horses race, Daddy?" Alani asked Monday morning during breakfast.
"Five more, baby."
"And your friend's horse is going to win, right?"
"I hope so."
"Good, then that's the horse I am picking."
For one year, my girls and I will all be picking the same horse.
The Most Beautiful Woman in the World and I are no longer together. She will always be the Most Beautiful Woman in the World to me.
In fact, she will always be the one to me. That will never change. I truly believe that there is one person who comes along in your life who is meant to be with you. She was the one.
I have no ill feelings toward her or no animosity. When you truly love someone, unconditionally love them, you don't start hating them just because the relationship didn't work out. At least, I don't. And, I never will.
I believe people come into your life for a reason. She entered my life during a time when I never thought I could love again. Not just another person, but myself.
She was beautiful (still is), intelligent, magnetic, had a way about her that I knew I could open myself up to her, loved books as much as I did, had a work ethic that I envied and long to have, was the most attractive woman I have ever laid my eyes upon, and possessed an incredible sense of humor. She was someone who I never imagined could possibly be interested in me.
However, for some reason, I couldn't stop pursuing her. She was perfect. Still is. And to me, always will be.
Why we are no longer together really isn't important to me. What is important, is that for more than three years, I had what so many people long to have. I am grateful for that and will always cherish the time we had together.
So, now, I find myself single again in my life. But, for the first time in my life, it doesn't seem to bother me that I am alone. I have my kids, a job that I love, and a memory of the greatest love for another person that I have ever had.
For right now, that is enough.
To the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, thank you for showing me what love truly is for someone other than your child. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for everything.
Just know that I will always be there for you. For whatever you may need, whenever you may need it.
My next door neighbor has not mowed his lawn in 2009. I decided yesterday in a round about way to bring attention to the eye sore that has been bothering me for weeks.
"Hey, Bob. How are you doing?"
I didn't allow him to answer. Instead, I tried to use humor to get him to see what I have to see every time I am in my front yard.
"Your grass grows so much faster than mine. You could film an episode of "Man vs. Wild" in your front yard. Want me to call the Discovery Channel and get them out here for you? Could be a nice money maker for you."
Without hesitation, Bob turned around and walked back in his house without saying a word. Guess he doesn't get my sense of humor.
I don't know why I have this look on my face, nor do I remember making this face. Further evidence that drinks other than iced tea, diet coke, and/or milk may not be best for me to have when cameras are around.
For one day, I was Chevy Chase. And, not the good Chevy Chase who made America laugh on Saturday Night Live, or in his movies Caddy Shack or Fletch. No, I was Chevy Chase from National Lampoon's Vacation.
And, my girls will never let me forget it.
In the movie Vacation, Chevy Chase plays Clark Griswold, a family man who plans a cross country trip with his family to visit the fictional amusement park Wally World. After mishap after mishap, the family finally arrives to Wally World only to find it closed for a week due to repairs.
A great watch for the audience, however, in real life with four daughters in a car on a five-hour round trip drive, it's nothing short of hell.
I came up with a plan Sunday morning to take my girls to one of my favorite destinations as a child. Nestled under in the Eastern Sierra mountains, the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery is one of the oldest in the state and one of the most visited.
I told my girls all about the hatchery during breakfast and tried to convince them that it was worth the long drive. They were skeptical to say the least, but agreed that it beat staying home on a beautiful Spring day.
We took off shortly after breakfast and it didn't take long for the 4-year-old to start doing what 4-year-olds do on long trips.
"Are we there yet?"
That was quickly followed by, "Can we stop? I have to go to the bathroom?"
When she wasn't asking one of those questions, the other three were in the back fighting over what road trip game we should play next. Twenty questions, I Spy, and Name that Tune were being played over and over again.
"Dad, I don't want to play that again,'' said Shelby. "They always win and get to pick what they want to play because they are older."
After hearing this, I morphed into my Dad when we used to go on long trips when I was a child. I couldn't believe it was happening, but there was no stopping it.
"Hey girls, why don't you play the Quiet game?"
"What's that?" asked Vanna.
"Let's see who can be the quietest the longest. The winner gets to pick the next CD we play. OK?"
For one minute, it worked. They were quiet and were doing nothing but looking at each other waiting for the other to crack. Then, it was over.
"Dad, this game sucks," said Kern, the oldest and less apt to fall for the trick. "All the CDs are yours any ways, so we don't want to listen to them any way."
With that, we were back to the, "Are we there yets?", "I am hungry,", and "How much longers?". I was about to scream when I finally saw what I was looking for:
Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery, 2 miles
The girls began to scream as I turned on the dirt road that led to the hatchery. After driving for a mile, we reached the entrance only to find the gate closed and locked.
"Dad, what does the sign say?"
"Alani, it says its closed because it is damaged from a flood,'' said Kern. "Well, Dad, that was worth the drive."
I couldn't respond to that the way I wanted to, so instead I unloaded the girls and we had lunch outside the gate while sitting on the dirt road. They asked a few questions about the surrounding mountains and it appeared as if I was forgiven.
Then, Vanna asked a question that she didn't like the answer to.
"Can we go to the mall here?"
"Babe, this is a little town. They don't have a mall here."
The other people who have to endure it while I am enjoying myself is a different story. For them, the three to five minutes must seem like an eternity. However, I could really care less.
I am just living the dream. Me, a microphone and a willing or even an unwilling audience is all I need.
Well, maybe one beer. When your as bad as I am, a little liquid courage never hurts. Who would have thought that partaking in Karaoke would be so much fun?
They say those who can do, and those who can't teach. Well, I am already a teacher. So, when it comes to singing, I pick songs that I have no business singing. If you can't do it, try and screw it up as much as possible is my philosophy.
Why take yourself seriously when you know you aren't any good? It's all about having fun and letting loose.
So, my song of choice? Clarence Carter's Strokin'. That's right. This 5-foot-7, 150-pounder sings a song sung by a big black man with a strong voice.
That's like Barry White singing Barry Manilow's Mandy. It doesn't work.
But, me impersonating Carter giving sexual tips? It doesn't get any better. The irony of it all... sex is something I vaguely remember.
But, I can sing about it.
"Let me ask you something... How long has it been since you made love, huh? Did you make love yesterday Did you make love last week Did you make love last year Or maybe it might be that you plannin' on makin' love tonight"
It doesn't matter that I would have to answer no to all those questions. Well, last year... that would be yes.
No. What matters is that for the few minutes I am up there, I am making love with the microphone. And, it's good. Real good.
For me, at least. When your a single dad, sometimes that's as good as it gets.
Maybe not long enough for some of you. But, here I am.
It has been quite a month to say the least. Had a birthday, buried a friend, celebrated Easter with my girls, spent too many nights singing Kareoke in a local bar, got a new roommate, and had the best conversation with my Mom in the last 20 years.
To say the least, the conversation with my Mom was the highlight.
Ironically, it didn't start off all that great. In fact, after hearing the first thing she said, I thought our relationship was doomed.
"Brett, I read your entire blog."
After that, there was silence. I was speechless and she was waiting for me to say something.
There have been a few times where I referred to my Mother in posts where I talked about her drinking problems, wrote about her driving our family car into a Winchell's Donuts, and even mentioned her failed relationships with men since the divorce with my father. The purpose of doing this was not to hurt her, rather, I did it because her struggles were a part of me.
I have said in the past that my blog is essentially me looking in a mirror. What I see is what I write.
However, when I write something that puts a loved ones business out for anyone to read, I should have considered how they would feel about it. That's what was going through my mind while thinking of what to say to her.
"Are you OK? I mean, I know I wrote some things you probably didn't like reading."
"No, it wasn't easy reading some of the things on there. But, that was me. I am just sorry, Brett."
Hearing my Mom tell me she was sorry was hard to take. I have never looked for an appolgy from her. She's my Mom. The only Mom I had and the only Mom I will ever have.
More importantly, the only Mom I could ever want.
While she had her faults, there were things about her that I absolutely loved and adored.
Whenever I had a problem or was in some sort of trouble, she was always the one I ran to. She was human and had gone through shit and I knew she would listen and not judge or ridicule me.
She was the one I told when I got drunk for the first time, when I lost my virginity, and ran to after all my failed relationships. I couldn't have asked for anyone better to go to.
I could always count on her for that. If my girls feel that way about me in 20 years, I'll be a happy father.
It was finally time to tell her.
"Mom, listen. Whatever problems or mistakes I have had or made, are all me. I'd like to be able blame you, but it would be a lie. You need to let go of the past, and know that I love you and am so grateful for you."
"Thank you, Brett."
"No, thank you Mom."
We talked for another 20 minutes and we agreed to find a way to get her out to California to spend a week with my girls and I. It's finally time for my daughters to meet the great Mother I have.