June 21, 2010

Don't shame the name

That's what my dad always told me before I was about to head out the door to raise some hell with my hometown buddies. He'd just give me that dad look and say, "Don't shame the name." It was definitely a directive as opposed to a request. And I have no doubt he had suspicions that we'd be doing some things we shouldn't be doing, but I'm also sure somewhere deep in his heart he had some level of confidence that I had actually learned something from him and my mom and would do the right thing - to not shame the family name. Unfortunately, I broke that trust on more than one occasion in my youth, and it still bothers me to think of what I put my parents through from roughly 1986 to 1990... give or take a few years. Sometime after 1990 I finally stopped getting caught for doing stupid things - or STEWpid in my case. It's about the same time I got my first real job after college, which brings some level of responsibility with it. But those who know me best know I still stumbled from time to time. In fact, I quite literally stumbled the evening of October 17, 1994, while racing Jimmy Benham out of Mile High Stadium to our awaiting tour bus after watching a classic John Elway vs. Joe Montana battle with about 30 other Pierre folks on the same bus tour. Long story short - we missed our bus ride home and instead got a free ride in an ambulance to the Denver hospital. Actually, it was more like a $300 ride... plus $706 for three stitches on my temple and a complimentary Emergency Room shirt made out of paper. Luckily, I had upped my health insurance deductible to $1,000 earlier that year, so I got a whopping six dollars of my bill paid for by Blue Cross Blue Shield. Jimmy stayed behind to make sure I was taken care of, but I think it's because he felt guilty for tripping me. As I recall, I was winning the race back to the bus when I took the face plant to the pavement, so there's no doubt he tripped me. Regardless, Jimmy will gladly tell you about our 12-hour Greyhound bus ride back to SoDak the next morning... me still wearing my complimentary paper shirt and carrying my sweatshirt in a plastic hospital bag because it was a tad bit blood soaked from the head wound suffered after I slid across the stadium parking lot. Truth be told, I wasn't even the scariest looking character on that bus. Good times...

Anyway, after spending three long days back home in Pierre for Oahe Days and an All 1980's Class Reunion, I couldn't help but think of my dad while driving the seven hours back to Chaska on Father's Day. I lost my dad in a single-engine plane crash in 1998, but I can still hear him telling me things like, "Don't shame the name" and "Just do the best you can." I know he's watching over me with Claire, and I even started singing the same cheezy song to Claire that my dad would sing while he drove me to school in junior high. My dad was known more for his dry wit than his story-telling ability - a trait I think I've inherited as anyone who has ever sat through me trying to tell a simple story can attest. My dad once shared with me his worry that he wasn't an active enough father. For example, he thought he should have helped coach one of the basketball teams I played on growing up in Pierre. But, instead, what he did do was drive his little brown Toyota pickup all over the state of SD to attend every one of my high school basketball games, and he kept every game roster showing the points he recorded in ink next to my name. My dad taught me a work ethic that has since gotten me recognized at every job I've ever held. And I think what my dad gave all his kids is he taught us the importance of just being a genuinely good person. He taught us about integrity and character, which is exactly what I hope to pass on to Claire and any other kids I'm lucky enough to have. So I'm hopeful I didn't shame my family name this weekend, and I'm hoping the old friends I did hang out with will think of me like, "That's the Stew I remember... a genuinely good guy, but his stories suck!"

Well, I'm thankful there were no stitches or head wounds to speak of this weekend. Plus I saw people I haven't seen in 20 years or more, which reminded me why I've been friends with these guys since elementary school. Even though it's been 10, 15 or 20 years since we've gotten together, we still managed to have a little bit A LOT of fun.  I was able to reminisce with high school pals - like Higgy Baby, the Girls of '86, and a bunch of my closest buddies. Speaking of which, I found some interesting pictures in my cell phone that I'm sure a few of my pals would like me to destroy, but pics like these will come in handy some day... especially if Fransen ever runs for Governor. But since I never got permission from anyone to post the pics on the internet, I probably shouldn't share them. Besides, I don't really want to have to explain to Linda what Smitty is doing in one of the photos.  She's always thought of him as one of my "responsible" friends, and she can't say that about most of my pals.

Speaking of Smitty - or, as most of us like to call him, "SmitHead" (rhymes with, well you can figure that out). This photo pretty much sums up my three-day weekend. It's all a blur, but I hope to see all my friends again sooner than later.

6 comments:

Marcie 9:05 AM  

Wish I'd made time to stop by the 80's reunion -- we had company all weekend. It would have been nice to say hi in person. Love your blog, Stew. Take care - see you at the next class of 86 reunion.

Bogart 9:53 AM  

Thanks for checking out the blog, Marcie! Sorry I missed you, too, but I'm hoping for a 25th reunion next summer - of course, that means you and all the same organizers will have to put it together again! No big deal, right? Take care!

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Great post Stewie. Your dad would be proud!
Susan

Bogart 12:37 PM  

Thanks, Susan... I'm assuming you're talking about the part where I'm a half-way decent father to Claire, as opposed to the part where I'm in total party mode. He always said about beer, "You can put that stuff right back in the horse!"

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

You're back, baby!! Great post! You are a wonderful person and we are lucky to call you a friend.

Michelle

Bogart 2:56 PM  

Thanks, Michelle! Looks like I have the better luck, though... lots of great friends! See you in a few weeks for Round 2 of my Bodily Damage Tour!

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About This Blog

Commentary from a stay-at-home dad on daily happenings and misadventures while helping raise a wonderful little girl. The goal is to employ wit, sarcasm and/or humor to make the blog pseudo-entertaining. Then again, setting goals never really worked for me, but maybe you'll chuckle anyway.

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