Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hip Hop Dance

In Diana’s never-ending quest to find something, anything, to keep the boys occupied after school, she signed them up for a Hip Hop Dance class.

At first, I was a little uncomfortable with dance lessons. We Hamanns are a testosterone challenged group to begin with, I was worried about the potential fun making and bullying from the dullards.

But then I heard how the moms breathlessly described Marcus, the Hip Hop instructor. Let’s just say they would like to engage in some serious Lambada with him. In his pants. I figured being able to dance is a nice backup to hitting balls real far when it comes to getting girls.

Diana did me the favor of taping a recent class. Elijah dances as if no one is watching. Arms and legs and hair flailing with reckless abandon. Luca approaches it with the steely determination and stiff arms of a Judo expert. And Marcus made me feel funny.

This newfound boogie education coincided with the purchase a new Xbox dance game. It was another of Diana’s vain attempt to get the boys to play something that doesn’t involve shooting someone in the face. The game features colorful silhouettes of Marcuses and female Marcuses dancing to the latest tunes by people 30 years my junior. A camera picks up your movements and sends them to the National Security Agency (NSA), and also gives you points on how closely you match the digital dancers.

The boys have been playing it pretty non-stop, so we get to congratulate ourselves on fighting the obesity epidemic, one darkened basement at a time.

The other night, I announced very loudly that I was going to show Luca how it is done. Because his old man was known to cut quite a rug in the early 2000s. We loaded up the game and I demanded we dance to The Village People’s “YMCA.” Because I was pretty sure I knew what to do during the chorus.

After raking my knuckles across the ceiling enough times to draw blood, I started to get the hang of it. I even got a few encouraging blips and boops from the xbox. By the end I was really having fun and even adding my own little flair to the moves.

After the round, the xbox replayed our dancing back to us. I stood there, stunned, as a paunchy, grey-haired goblin lurched and sweated his way across the screen.

I quickly suggested we switch to Star Wars Battlefront so we could shoot some people in the face.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


While driving Elijah and cousin Finn to our weekly dinner at The Firehouse restaurant and knickknack emporium, our favorite subject of swear words came up.

They were pretty sure they had heard everything the swear world had to offer. I begged to differ.

“You guys haven’t heard the worst swear word ever. A word so bad, you can legally punch me in the face for saying it.”

This got their attention. They begged me to say it. I made them promise not to punch me in the face. Plus I made them promise to never, ever say it out loud because they can get arrested.

They crossed their hearts.


I have no idea where the word came from. Naneenono just entered my brain like a bolt of lightening. It just felt like a swear.

Of course, the boys didn’t believe it was a real swear and they shouted it over and over. I begged them to stop, because I didn’t want to get arrested or punched in the face. When we passed an Evanston police car, I nearly burst into tears.

Once we got to the restaurant, we joined Luca, Rory and my brother. All of who got a quick introduction to this, the worst word in the world.

Naneenono Naneenono Naneenono!

I asked Finn to draw what he thought Naneenono was. He crayoned a giant purple squid that knocked over skyscrapers. I said his drawing was close, but a Naneenono is actually a giant squid’s rectum.

Luca began to shout, “I said the ‘N-word!’” in the crowded restaurant. I figured it was time to put the game to rest. Or escalate the game to its inevitable conclusion.

After a clandestine meeting with the bartender, he came over to our table and gave the performance of a lifetime.

“Guys. Some of the tables have been complaining. Have you been saying the worst word in the world?”

The kids’ faces turned white.

“They said you’ve been saying (looks over his shoulder) ‘Naneenono.’ Guys. I don’t want to have to throw you out of my bar.”

He walked away, solidifying Naneenono’s place in my heart forever.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

PTC 2016

Last night was parent teacher conference night. We had to split up duties since Elijah won’t take my advice to act dumb enough to get left back to Kindergarten.

After I announced that being late to school setting may cause a bolt to come loose in my brain, Diana told me I was doing Luca’s conference, because she got yelled at by the Kindergarten teacher last time. I was fine with it because Kindergarten was where I peaked anyway.

I sat in the tiny plastic chair and paid attention and raised my hand to speak and cooperated and desperately wanted a sticker. It was pretty painless. Luca is progressing along nicely though his reading and math and doesn’t editorialize when saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

Then she hit me with a right cross.

“But he has a few anxiety issues. He’s fairly timid when it comes to trying new things.”

This was the perfect opportunity for me to blame Diana, but I blurted out, “It’s all my fault. He inherited my broken DNA. I’m filled with anxiety all the time and it’s my panicked blood in his veins!”

His teacher scooted back a few inches and her eyes darted to the exit. We discussed techniques for dealing with Luca’s timidity and nerves, but I got the distinct impression she was directing her advice towards me.

She then offered to walk me down to Diana, because she didn’t want me to get lost (and break down into tears). We strolled the halls and she occasionally patted my arm in a “there, there” gesture.

We arrived and found Diana and Eli’s teacher laughing like old pals. Eli’s conference was terrific. His instructor called him the Mayor of Third Grade and said she would love to just sit and listen to him talk all day. 

She then asked if I could get her an Onion calendar.

I never got to thank Luca’s teacher because she had run away, most likely screaming.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Shoot

One of the perks of working for a comedy publication is occasionally they’ll ask you to pose for a photo that accompanies an article. You just have to pray your image isn’t attached to a headline like “So-Called Christian Has Erection.” 

Over my short tenure, I’ve been in a few. Given that I am the oldest person at the company by a long shot, I’m usually selected when the graphics team needs an old man or a grey haired man or a broken man.

I’m also the go to for family man.

The extremely nice, gregarious head of graphics asked me if he could come out to Evanston and snap some photographs of my wife, my kids and me for an article headlined “Disney World Opens New Ordeal Kingdom for Family Meltdowns.” All we’d have to do is stand looking angry and he’d insert us into a new Disney-fied background.

Diana was all for selling out our kids. She secretly hopes our kids will become child actors so we can nurture their creativity (steal their money).

Unfortunately, Diana was unavailable to be in the shot. She was too busy at the other Happiest Place on Earth, The Wine Goddess. We couldn’t use our sitter Schuyler, because the headline was not about a creepy old man who marries someone 20 years younger.

But we did have Lexa, our official back up mommy. She was happy to be in the shot, but less thrilled at wearing shorts in the dead of winter.

The photographer arrived and Elijah and Luca were climbing the walls with excitement. It took a while to get them into character. Eli was particularly tough.

“Okay. Now pretend to be angry. Nope. Not smiling. Try frowning. See, that’s the opposite of a frown.”

You can see from the final shot they had to Photoshop out his grin.

Luca got into character almost immediately. When the photographer asked him to look at me, he burst into tears. In fact, tears flowed the entire session. This delighted the graphics man. “He’s doing perfect,” he chirped as Luca blubbered.

We got the shot and the article did pretty well.

Later that week, I portrayed an old businessman who engaged in bare-knuckle boxing before being officially banned by the editors from being in the paper for a while.  Too much Rick.