Thursday, September 30, 2010


Last week, I read an editorial on commenting on some type of a "Dear Abby" letter from a mother who was concerned or jealous that her husband kissed their (5 year-old?) daughter on the lips. To be honest, I'm not sure what her real beef was but the general idea inspired me. But then, I caught a cold and forgot about it.

Then a couple nights ago, we watched an episode of Modern Family that loosely related to the patriarch not showing affection to his adult son, which in turn made the son reluctant to show PDA with his partner. Sweet, I remembered what I meant to write about last week!

There's an SNL skit from the past few seasons that came to mind. A family is uncomfortably affectionate with each other to the point that mom, dad, son, daughter, and anyone else in the act are blatantly making out with each other by the end. It makes me laugh and squirm at the same time.

In real life, some people are kissers. Some people aren't. I'm a kisser. I'm a big fan of hugs, too. But if I had to choose between the two, I'd have to go with smooching. And not one of those weaksauce air pecks inches away from a cheek. Those are lame. At minimum, I'm talking a peck with lip contact somewhere on the recipient's face. Best case scenario, we've got a lip kiss however brief.

Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, let's be clear that I'm not talking about attempting a wet tonsil hockey maul session on one of my buddy's wives after a dinner date at their house. No. If I lip kiss a friend or relative, I'm simply trying to say "hey, you're closer to me than someone with whom I'd just shake hands - let me lay one on you." If that person smacks back, even better. Granted I'm supercreepy in general, but I promise there are no ulterior motives with my affinity to osculate.

My smooch philosophy applies equally to family and friends but especially to my two little beauties. Greta recently turned the corner on the hugs and kisses department. Although she usually runs away from me yelling "no, no, no" after announcing I need a kiss, she does indulge me once in a while. Granted, on those occasions, her kisses have been innocently open mouthed - but she's starting to bring her lips closer together.

As for G-man, sometimes he makes an expression with his mouth that reminds me of a seahorse's pucker. And I just want to kiss him whenever I see that face. It killed me last week because of my cold and not being able to kiss him. Every time I had the urge to show him a little love, I had to restrain myself from getting close because there was no way I was risking getting him sick. I'm better though now so the smooches are back on.

Getting back to the Dear Abby lady, I'm not sure I believe that the letter was from an actual reader or something manufactured for the sake of provoking a potential reader. Assuming it was sincere, here's my reply...

Dear Weird About Your Husband Kissing Your Kid:

Are you serious? Hugs and Kisses, Daddio De Novo

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Making the Cut

I cringed with empathetic pain while reading the sports page recently. Executives and coaches adjusted their final rosters to determine who made the team and who got cut. Inevitably, NFL teams crushed the dreams of many aspiring football players when telling them somehow that they were being "let go." Most of those being cut fall into two groups: 1) the unproven rookie who didn't impress enough; or 2) the expensive veteran with deteriorating skills.

Despite my hulking physique, you may be astonished to learn that I was never an aspiring professional football player. As a kid with an August birthday, I barely squeaked into my grade based on age. In other words, when other guys were shaving and experimenting with facial hair, I still sounded like Peter Brady during his "sha-na-na-na-na" solo. Similarly, I was always undersized compared to the rest of my class. My mom thought soccer was a better fit, which was true in retrospect. Next thing you know, she and my dad are reffing, coaching, or hanging nets on goal posts along with other parents while 22 kids move like an amoeba encircled around the ball.

I played many sports through junior high, but soccer emerged as my best sport in high school. My coach was an unorthodox, passionate, crazy, master motivator called "Crash." We never won the big one, but we had some great wins and amazing moments together. (My first foray into writing was actually a manuscript I hashed together in college about that experience. It sits hidden in a drawer in my desk at work because I'm embarassed at its naivity whenever I get the nerve to take a look again.) Anyway, my point is that soccer's importance to me as a seventeen year-old ranked somewhere just below eating and breathing.

In the summer before college began, I trained and practiced my ass off. I was going to walk on the varsity team of a Division One school with players from foreign countries and American kids who played on traveling teams. With the exception of a disastrous high school freshman basketball tryout (I became the manager, which deserves a blog entry all on its own), I was not accustomed to athletic failure.

Once I arrived at the University of Vermont, I discovered a disturbingly serious problem: I wasn't that good compared to everyone else. In the fall, I played on the B-team with other dreamers still hanging on to the possibility of a call up. The audition continued through practices and scrimmages in the winter and spring.

Before my freshman year ended, everyone met individually with the head coach. I wasn't invited to the summer preseason. I was welcome to try out again but only with other walk-ons. I read between the lines. He didn't think I was good enough. I was crushed even though my financial livelihood was unaffected, which is the case for most of the guys whose names I read under the "Release" heading of the above-mentioned sports page this weekend.

Making the cut is a rite of passage in virtually all sports at every level. For the rejected, the cut system is a brilliant test of character, cajones, intestinal fortitude, etc. They have two options: accept their fate and move on elsewhere, or get better and keep trying. It's a brutally honest and cold but necessary process. It's a lesson that overlaps with any pursuit for that matter: job applications, dating, auditioning for the Jersey Shore, you name it.

As for me, I did what many other hasbeen athletes do - I traded in my jersey for a whistle. I had the pleasure of coaching the Hunt Middle School boys' soccer team of Burlington, Vermont for three years and fell in love with the sport again. I just wasn't ready to let go of my connection to the sport. That opportunity was the perfect transition. Nowadays, I'd probably pull my hammy getting off the couch just to turn the channel to a soccer game.


Assuming that Greta and Gus are interested in sports (or other activities with "cuts"), I'm not so secretly hoping to don a whistle again. Make no mistake, though, it will be all about them. I have no interest in being that annoying coach who plays their kid every minute of every game, or pressures them to succeed a la Emilio Estevez's detention for administering wedgies.

Whatever interest my babies pursue, I pray that they make the teams they try out for a whole lot more than the alternative. But in the event they don't "make it" on a team some day, I will be there with a sympathetic ear. Hopefully, my war stories won't sound too boring for them then...