Friday, June 26, 2009

Tourist in Your Own Hometown

Despite the corny “Possibility City” advertising campaign, I love my hometown of Louisville, Ky. I was born and raised here. I went to college here. I’ve worked at two Fortune 500 companies here, and yet I still apparently look like a tourist.

That was the unfortunate feedback I received during a recent family lunch outing in Louisville’s east end. We were at Logan’s Roadhouse, which is a place we don’t typically frequent. As a result, we spent a little extra time with the menu.

That fact, coupled with what must have been overly casual attire for a Sunday afternoon, spelled just one thing to our waitress: T-O-U-R-I-S-T.

“Where you from?” she said.

“Um, from across the bridge,” I felt like saying.

Instead, curiosity got the better of me. I began to query the waitress about why she so readily identified us as tourists. She danced around the issue delicately, perhaps fearing loss of tip. She pointed to the menu confusion. I sensed something deeper.

I was placing my bet on Kim’s colorful ensemble. She, in turn, was quick to blame my golf shirt, which, by the way, she happened to pick out. Or maybe it was Trent’s chronically unkempt hair. Or perhaps the corndog that Clark ordered. We’ll probably never know for sure.

Either way, maybe Louisville really is “Possibility City.” If you wear the wrong thing, it’s quite possible you’ll be mistaken for a tourist.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ugly Banter Would Jeopardize Game Show Appearance

I watch Jeopardy several times a week, matching wits against my wife and son. Despite the fact that I once bombed at an actual Jeopardy audition, these battles have convinced me that I would fare pretty well on the actual show. In fact, the only part of the show that concerns me is the required banter with host Alex Trebek between the first and second rounds.

It seems to me these stories need to be equal parts humor and intellect. Very few contestants actually get it right. Their stories are either too obscure or too dry, like, “Alex, I once celebrated New Year’s Eve twice when I crossed the International dateline.”

As lame as these stories are, I must admit I probably don’t have anything better. Many of my best stories are far too bawdy for national television.

“So Doug, tell us a little bit about yourself.”
“Well, Alex, I once hit my uncle in the gut with a golf ball shortly after his hernia surgery.”
“Ouch. That’s sounds painful.”
“I told him I had a bad slice.”

Or how about this gem?

“Doug, I understand you’ve been interested in finance from a very young age.”
“Yes, Alex. Funny you mentioned that. When we were teenagers, my friend Kenny and I used to tie strings around quarters to get free games at the arcade.”
“Um, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.”
“Well, uh, don’t put that on the show.”

Something tells me these stories just wouldn’t make the cut.

In fact, most of my stories are so completely devoid of sophistication that I might tank the game on purpose, just to avoid returning as champion. After all, another day would mean another story. In a worst case scenario, I’d need five day’s worth of witty banter. That’s a lot of pressure. I could even get called back for the Tournament of Champions … and yet more stories like this:

“Doug, it says here that you once ordered in French at a Mexican restaurant in Italy.”
“No, Alex, I didn’t. You must have me confused with the other contestant. However, I did once celebrate New Year’s Eve with a grown man in a diaper.”

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Don’t DARE Go There

New Year’s Eve has been a lot more subdued at my house since D.A.R.E. moved in.

D.A.R.E. is short for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It’s a police officer-led classroom program that teaches kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Both my children have been through the D.A.R.E. program. They are fully indoctrinated.

That’s a good thing, of course, unless you’re planning to order a drink with dinner, as I discovered during a recent family outing.

The purpose of the evening was to celebrate the end of our dispute with State Farm. Feeling celebratory, I ordered a Blue Moon. The festive mood soon vanished, however, as I found myself facing charges of being a drug user.

It went something like this.

The waiter delivers a refreshing Blue Moon, complete with an orange slice. I take a satisfying sip.
Clark, my 6-year-old son, intervenes. “Daddy, do you know what that is?” he asks.
Eager to hear the reply, I say, “No, what is it?”
Clark says defiantly, “That’s drugs.”

I immediately imagine Clark telling his kindergarten teacher how his dad does drugs, followed shortly thereafter with a visit from social services. Trying to head this off, I explain to Clark that alcohol isn’t really a drug and dad doesn’t really drink much anyway.

I’m in the clear until the second DARE junior officer, Trent, my 12-year-old, weighs in with, “Dad, you drank a martini (really a margarita) at the Great Wolfe Lodge and you also had a drink on New Year’s Eve.” At this point, I realize Trent must be keeping a spreadsheet of my alcohol use, which we’ll be discussing in future therapy sessions.

Kim, my wife, who ordered a sweet tea, seems delighted with the whole conversation.

Finally, I’m able to change the subject and finish dinner without further incident. I even managed to slip in a second beer, which is important since I probably won’t be able to order another one for months. After all, it’s all being thoroughly documented.

My only saving grace through this episode is that I don’t smoke, meaning the kids will have to save that lecture for their grandmother.

Even with such inquisitions, I think the D.A.R.E. officers are doing a great job. I congratulate them. I just hope they’re available to watch the kids on New Year’s Eve.