Monday, July 27, 2015

Professor Booty

There is a Beastie Boys song that features a classic exchange: “Professor, what’s another word for pirate treasure?” And then a deep voiced scholar says, “Well I think it’s booty.”

It’s stupid and silly and just inappropriate enough to make it perfect for Luca.

A few months ago, I played the song for him in his little bunk bed. Immediately after pressing “play” on my iPhone, I realized the first minutes of the song are just filled with filthy language. Lots of F’s and F-ing’s and, well mostly F-ing’s. By the time the booty line happened Luca had an absolute F-ing ear full.

Of course he loved it. And now asks for it constantly.

“Dad? Can I hear the booty song?”

“Dad, what’s another word for pirate treasure? Booty! Booty! Booty!”

I always oblige.  But not before ruining the song with a lengthy lecture about bad language and how we aren’t supposed to use that kind of language and we can never say those words in front of other people and for sure never ever say that kind of language in front of mommy.

After one recent lecture, Luca looked at me thoughtfully. “Dad. I think maybe those bad words at the beginning of Professor Booty actually make the song better.”

I agreed. I asked him if he had a favorite swear word. He said he wasn’t allowed to say it.

I told him in the interest of science, it would be ok if he told me just so long as he didn’t repeat it in front of the servers at The Firehouse Grill. We were in the parking lot of The Firehouse Grill.

Luca looked into the rearview mirror at me and shouted, “Shut the F*** up!”

That was a good one.

p.s. T-Minus 6 days until Disney.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Plan

My diabolical plan is about to reveal itself to the world and Elijah and Luca will never be the same.

One week from this Saturday, I will roust my sons from their beds and announce they must get out of their pjs immediately and into play clothes. Why, do you ask? Because one week from this Saturday we are going to Disneyworld.

I have acquired a stretch limousine which will take us, and cousin Finn and cousin Rory and uncle Steve, to O’Hare where we will take a flight immediately to New Jersey.

Yeah, we have to do a layover in New Jersey.

But then, we will immediately fly to Orlando for the completion of my diabolical plan.

This plan doesn’t happen to involve Diana, which is a huge bummer. But she has to cover for two of her Wine Goddess employees who happen to be married and are having a baby any minute. Plus, she hates Disney so much there was no humanly way she’d enjoy herself.

This has been an incredibly hard secret to keep. Mostly because the sentence “If you don’t clean up your plate I am canceling our Disney trip” is constantly on the tip of my tongue. But I just felt the surprise is the most delicious part of the whole thing.

I mean, if you were five and your mom and dad sprung a Disney trip on your head, wouldn’t it blow your friggin’ mind? I just had to make it a secret.

I’ll admit I do take a little sick pleasure in the power I wield. At the beginning of the summer, Eli lamented the fact that all his friends got to go to Disney and he hadn’t. I frowned an evil frown and said, “Oh buddy. I’m sorry. I just don’t think we’ll be able to do Disney this year. Maybe next year. Or the year after.”


I’ve also been taking every opportunity to twist the knife by saying I’m really busy at work and I don’t think we’ll have time to do anything, vacation-wise, this summer. But playing in the yard is just like vacation, right?


Yes, I know I’m being cruel. And those disappointments may actually causing some emotional damage. And there may be a chance the Travel Gods will smite our flights. But I think the joy damage will outweigh the emotional damage.

So do me a favor. Keep your mouths shut for the next week or so, ok?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Slow Speed Chase

On Saturday, the weather was kind of crappy so the cousins and we decided to drive to the mall. Why the mall? Because where were you when we were trying to figure out what to do?

My brother and I split up kids and I took Luca and Finn. My brother took Elijah and Rory. A few minutes into the drive, Luca asked, “Dad? Can we play that game where we are police and have to catch the bad guys?”

I suggested we amp the game up a little bit and use Uncle Steve’s car as our perp. We then embarked on the slowest high speed police chase in the world. 

I gradually accelerated to 31 blazing miles per hour and quickly overtook Steve, who like all Hamanns likes to drive just under the speed limit. I checked my blind spot and gently pulled up along side Steve’s car, making sure I used my turn signal liberally.

Inside Luca’s head we were going 110 MPH on who wheels with our siren blaring. Luca rolled down his window and shouted, “Pull over!”

The occupants of Steve’s car knew the jig was up, because a tiny Rory finger gun poked out of their car and she began shooting imaginary bullets at us (I assume they were pony shaped). I gradually eased up on the gas and let Steve get ahead of us.

I then rammed Steve’s car to disable it. Or in other words, I inched up to within 40 yards of his bumper and shouted, “Bam!” Steve shook his fist at us and I could see Eli’s head wildly bobbing and weaving in his car seat. It’s possible he was playing another game entirely. Probably “Hip Hop Dance Troop.” But Rory continued firing ponies at us.

We finally trapped our perps in the Nordstrom parking lot by easing along side them, opening our door (being careful not to ding the other cars) and shouting, “Put your hands on your heads!”

We then arrested them all and took them to the frozen yogurt stand for questioning.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


The boys and I went to see the new Pixar movie “Inside Out,” which anthropomorphizes a little girl’s emotions: Joy, Fear, Disgust, Sadness and Anger.

After the movie, Luca said, “Dad, you only have two guys in your brain. Joy and Anger.”

I told him those are the only two emotions available to me after going to the Skokie pool.

Yes folks, it’s that time of year again. When the fattest, tattooest people (myself included) north of the city descend on the famous Oakland Avenue petri dish. You know you are at an amazing pool when there is a sign at the entrance imploring patrons to wear suitable swimwear. Lace, peekaboo bras do not count.

I like to pretend that I’m a north shore liberal fancy pants. But I grew up fishing for minnows in filthy creek beds (it’s pronounced “crick”). The Skokie pool is only slightly dirtier than those creek beds, so I feel a real sense of nostalgia whenever I’m there.

Elijah and Luca love it. Partly because of the giant red bucket that dumps dangerous amounts of water onto their heads. But partly because of the Lord of the Flies-esc mayhem around the waterslides. The lifeguards gave up on trying to establish order a long time ago. So you enter the water slide area at your own risk. You are lucky if you only get shoved and punched on your way to the slide mouth.

I would stand at the bottom of the slide, anxiously waiting to hear what kind of violence befell my boys up top.

They would breathlessly tell me tails of de-pantsings, hair pulling and eye gouging. I would then instruct the boys in the ancient art of passive aggressive battle. “Just look them in the eye and say, ‘My dad is going to beat you up. He’s a Chicago Bear’” But don’t actually point me out.

On one such occasion, Luca told me he got kicked hard on the way down. I told him to look the kid in the eye and shout, “Back Off!” as loud as he can. And then say his dad is going to beat him up.

Luca said, “It wasn’t a kid. It was that dad.”

Luca pointed to an ancient, wrinkly old man from an indeterminate Soviet Bloc country.  He waddled nearby in saggy red shorts. Luca looked at me, expecting action.

I knelt down and said, “He’s so close to death, let’s not push him over the edge here.” Luca shrugged and scampered up the stairs to enter the fray again.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

End Of Baseball

Diana was able to join us for Elijah’s last baseball game of the season. She couldn’t have picked a better day. The weather was glorious. Eli got hits without the painful chopping down a redwood with a butter knife futility and I actually engaged the other parents in real conversation like a human being. We really put on a show for mommy.

After the game, Eli’s coach had everyone take a knee and gave a heartfelt speech about what an honor it was to watch them play. I was rather touched by his emotion.

Immediately afterwards, we all went to Eli’s other coach’s house for some baseball themed BBQ (hot dogs), and the team inexplicably played soccer in the yard.

While I drank baseball themed alcohol (beer), I chatted with one of the moms about how great it will be when the team gets together next year.

The mom’s face darkened. “They won’t be playing together next year.”

I learned that in the 9 and 10 year olds baseball, only three kids from every school are allowed on each team. Plus, it’s kid pitch instead of coach pitch. They also rank kids’ ability. And the worst news is it’s three strikes and you’re out.

I got a sinking feeling. Like the ownership of Andy’s Custard Chillers was moving the team to Cleveland. I felt like the mathematical equation above equated to Eli falling out of love with baseball.

On our way home, I explained the whole system to Eli and told him the only way he’d be able to play next year is if he actually practiced.

Eli said, “Um. I’m not sure I want to play baseball next year.”

Luca immediately piped in, “I definitely not playing baseball next year. Definitely.”

I hope this isn’t the end of an era. But if it is, I’ll have comfort in knowing I got to see my son play little league. And bitch about it the whole time.