Thursday, June 25, 2015

Custer's Fair 2015

There is a street fair that runs right in front of Diana’s wine store called “Custer’s Last Stand.” Why? Because a small portion of the fair appears on Custer Street, silly. It also allows the fair organizers to wear wool period clothes in sweltering heat year after year.

There is this amazing mixture of carny folk, people from the nearby assisted living facility and literally the strangest Evanston residents the town can dig up. It’s as if the city grabbed a few school busses and drove up and down the streets, picking up anyone who looked insane and delivering them to the fair entrance. “Oh look! A man dressed as a bird. Pull over.”

So you can imagine this is Elijah and Luca’s favorite thing. We go every year. And every year I forget what a bad idea it is to take along my first son, Grover the dog. The combination of 100% humidity, thousands of dropped elephant ears and sexy stranger dog butts practically makes him froth at the mouth. His jerking and leaping on his leash makes me spill my $7 beer.

Because of the crush of humanity and the bird people, I force both boys to stand right next to me at all times. Like the Rasta guy selling Bob Marley flags would go through the trouble of kidnapping my sons and maintaining their constant demand for Legos and Netflix addiction. But you know my mantra: Not On My Watch.

But with a beer in one hand and a dog leash in the other, I’m unable to hold their hands in a vice grip. So I forced Luca to put his hand in my back pocket like a love struck high school junior. Eli flat out refuses because he has self respect. But I can still control Luca. He stumbled behind me like a western outlaw dragged by a stagecoach.

As I thought about how I looked, staggeringly lead around by a dog, beer spilling, with a five year old’s hand in my back pocket, I realized I may not want to look down my nose at the bird people.

In the end, we looked at some crap, rode the giant slide on burlap sacks, spent $12 to win a $3 stuffed animal, drank some lemonade (beers), bought some wooden sword and got mild botulism. In other words, had a grand old time.

Until next year, bird people. Until next year.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day 2015

If you are Elija and Luca, picking out a Father’s Day gift is tough. You can’t just phone it in like Mother’s Day.  There is nothing worse than when Dad gets stuff he doesn’t like. He has no game face. Let us not relive the “Illinois State Redbirds” t-shirt debacle of 2013.

Star Wars is a pretty good bet. But, jeez. Do you really want to add fuel to that fire? The man is one step away from filming himself swirling a broom handle like a light saber in the garage. But it’s so cute to see his little nerd face light up when he talks about rubber masks from 1980.

There may also be a way everyone can win here. Father’s Day doesn’t have to be just about fathers. If you play your cards right you can parlay that particular Sunday into a movie or a trip to Chuck E Cheese or even a toy. But it can’t be obvious. You can’t just wrap up an action figure and claim it’s for him. Because he may take you seriously and play with it himself.  And he usually puts the best toys way up high on that shelf in his closet next to the comics.

Wait a minute.

What if it was a toy that seems a little too complicated for kids, but is really for kids? Like a semi violent Xbox war game? Like Halo! No. That won’t work. Mom won’t go for it. No guns, remember?

Oh! What if it was one of those giant Lego sets? The one with, like two thousand pieces? One that is so cost prohibitive that only adults could afford it? They’ve got Star Wars ones like that! You could say building a huge set like that would be, like a bonding thing for us. It would bring us closer together. As a family!

And then when it’s done you get to play with it!

Giant Star Wars Lego set. Book it. You should also get him some crazy socks just in case the Lego thing is too obvious.

I loved it. And I loved the socks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


A few weeks ago, I dragged Elijah and Luca to the park to practice baseball. In fifteen short minutes, I ruined the very concept of practicing. And possibly ruined baseball for them forever. I threatened. I guilted. I yelled. I even went to far as whizzing a ball against the chain link fence to get their attention.

Mid whiz, I realized just how much of a dick I was being. It was my own insecurities being dickafied in front of my sons. What possible purpose did being a dick have? Aside from making my sons think I was a terrible person. Did I really think being a dick would make them better players?

Oh. Sorry for all the dick talk. You’ll see my point in a couple paragraphs.

I decided the best way to not become a raging dick was to just let Eli and Luca play or not play, practice or not practice and stop making everything about me.

On Saturday, I took Eli to his game, sat in the stands and just tried to enjoy myself.  Eli’s team was up to bat first. The Gods of baseball acknowledged my new faith and Eli got a hit without any real effort at all.

But then I noticed two things. 1) The team they were playing against were really, really good. Like turning double plays/catching balls in their caps good. 2) Their coaches were complete Dicks.

It seems that the “Dick’s Sporting Good Dicks” coached under a philosophy of screaming, humiliation and berating. Any time a player missed a ball, the head coach, a beer bellied, vaguely military guy, would get red faced with anger and stomp over to the offending player to admonish him at great volume.

These are eight year olds, remember.

The “Andy’s Frozen Custard Chillers” coaches, on the other hand, were not yellers. In fact, they go out of their way to compliment everyone. Especially players on the other team. It’s a lot more fun. But there is a certain “Bad News Bears” quality to the play.

In protest of the Dick’s tactics, I assumed my best sarcastic posture within earshot of their coaches. “I was under the impression this was supposed to be fun,” I sniffed. Or while petting a dog I’d say way too loudly, “Be lucky you aren’t in the field, boy. It’s no fun out there.”

At the end of the game, in a scene right out of a bad after school special, the clearly worst player on the Dick’s team was at the plate. His name was Peyton. He was painfully thin and could barely hold up his bat. The fat military coach threw him pitch after pitch and accompanied each one with an insult.

The entire stands, both Chillers parents and Dicks parents, siblings and random weird people who hang out at little league fields, focused all their hopes and dreams on Peyton getting a hold of a ball and having it sail directly into his coach’s crotch.

In the end, Peyton hit a tiny dribbler that barely made it to the pitcher’s mound. But the crowd roared as if he hit it into the lights like “The Natural.”

I wanted to buy Peyton an ice cream, but I was afraid it would come off a little pervy so I just spent my money on my own kids to buy back their love.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Last Sunday, Elijah and Luca and I visited a big, fancy carnival sponsored by a big fancy church in Skokie. I believe it was Our Lady Of Charging Insane Prices For Things. As we walked through the parking lot, Luca pointed to the towering Ferris Wheel and said, “Ooh Dad. I want to go on that.”

Yeah right. This is Luca we’re talking about. He takes after me in his philosophy of “Don’t Do Things. Why Do People Have To Do Things?”

But after we paid the lady at the ticket booth who knew better than get into a Jesus and The Money Changers debate with me, Luca was still Gung Ho for the big wheel. Eli was also in because he has no concept of public humiliation.

We got to the front of the line and the Carny right out of central casting shouted, “Two!”

I felt bad for his math skills and gently said, “There are three of us, my good man.”

“Two riders only!” He shouted back.

We had to act fast. The basket was swinging accusingly in front of us. I bent to Eli and said, “You have to go by yourself. We both know what will happen if Luca is alone.”

Eli said, “No.”

Panic enveloped me as I felt the stares of the other line members. You do NOT want to cross people who have paid $5 to ride a potentially lethally rusted carnival attraction.

The man behind us said, “You can ride with my daughter, son.” She was a perfectly adorable little girl around Eli’s age.

The prospect of an arranged marriage made Eli go pale and he casually said, “Um. I’ve decided I don’t want to ride this anymore.”

Luckily, we spotted Joe, of our friends Kitty and Joe fame and Eli ran over to him. Joe offered to take Eli on a super fast, spinning monstrosity called “The Vomitorium” or something.

As Luca and I crept up the Ferris Wheel, I could see Eli and Joe having the time of their lives. They laughed. They high fived. They sang “Best Friend” by Harry Nilsson. I distinctly thought I saw Eli mouth the words, “I wish you were my dada. My dad is a jerk.”

But after Luca and I disembarked, Eli came running up and begged me to buy him a lemonade and a funnel cake and a toy and a funnel cake. Thus re-establishing my status as dad.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

No Diapers

At the old HamannEggs, we do a pretty good job marking Elijah and Luca’s milestones. First words. First home invasions. So many first bodily functions. We aren’t that good at marking down the lasts.

I’m not sure why I keep referring to myself as “we.” HamannEggs doesn’t have a staff. It barely has one functioning writer.

Last night, when I was laying in Luca’s bed explaining to Eli that he was officially the meanest person in the world to his brother, I realized that neither one of them were wearing diapers. And hadn’t been wearing diapers for months now.

Diapers have been such a major part of their lives since, well, the day they were born. Diana doesn’t wear her wedding ring as often as those guys wore diapers.

I like to imagine there is a section of our local landfill dedicated to the Hamann boys. A Brownstone-size pile of poopy d’s.

Shouldn’t there have been more fanfare marking the end of this era? I feel like I should start a fire in our fireplace and create a funeral pyre of diapers. I don’t think that will work because: a) Our contractor is reaching the two week delay mark. 2) Fire can’t hurt diapers. Fire just angers diapers.

So let’s just pretend today, June 2, 2015 was the last day either Eli or Luca wore diapers. I’ll miss you, ones that leaked in the leg. I’ll miss you, ones where the little fastener fell of and you had to throw it out. I’ll miss you, ones we had to duct tape to Eli to keep him from removing.  I’ll miss you, completely and utterly useless swimming ones.

But most of all, I’ll miss the photo of the overly enthusiastic boy on the pull-ups diaper box. I rest easy knowing how this photo, that your stage mom forced you to do, will follow you for the rest of your natural life.

Along with this photo of Luca.