Tacos, Football & 99 cent Margaritas

When asked how we met Esposa and I generally answer “On a blind date” which is technically true. But it wasn’t completely blind and wasn’t a “real” date. Allow me to explain. In the fall of 1988 I was sharing a townhouse in Dallas with my old buddy Ralph. An Aggie through & through, Ralph was dating the inscrutable Helen. She was impossibly tall and one of the few who could deal with Ralph’s dalmatian Dot.

One day Ralph called Helen at work and the phone was answered by the “new girl” in the office. When I came home from work he told me “Coach, you need to meet this girl…” (Ralph called me coach for no apparent reason). Of course my superficial question was “what does she look like?” He responded that he didn’t know but that she knew her Aggie football. That was good enough for me, let’s do it. He had Helen set up a meeting between the four of us.

The meeting was set on a glorious fall afternoon not far from the townhouse, at the Taco Cabana on Northwest Highway. Home of the 99 cent margarita. Ralph and I got there first, then Helen. It seems that my “date” was running late. We sat outside in the receding sunshine. She had been on a business trip to the Texas Department of Corrections unit at Tennessee Colony in East Texas. I had to admit that I had never been on a date with someone who just left prison, which elicited laughs from Ralph and groans from Helen.

After a few minutes Helen saw her pull into the parking lot. She drove an immaculate 1984 Olds Cutlass Supreme, champagne in color with the obligatory maroon landau vinyl top.

I watched intently for her to walk around the corner. I had to admit to some curiosity about this football crazy girl. I wasn’t sure what to expect. And then…..

There she was.

She was walking toward us with a million watt smile. Walking into the setting sun. And. She. Was. Fabulous.

Beautifully big North Dallas hair in big loose curls surrounded her face, reflecting the sun back to us. Reflective aviators, khaki shorts, a stunning blue top that managed to be conservative and sexy at the same time. And her smile. We sat and chatted like old friends. All four of us. We went through over $20 worth of 99 cent margaritas, ordered some tacos & nachos. And then we dispersed. All too quickly.

I realized almost immediately that I had neglected to get her phone number. Which as I found out later, pissed her off. I figured no big deal, I would get it from Helen the next day (Friday). So I left a message on her recorder. No call back Friday. Or Saturday. Finally late Sunday afternoon I got the callback and the number.

Apparently my lack of interest (forgetting to ask for a phone number) inspired a trip to Fort Worth’s Pioneer Days in the Stockyards. A three day drinking & dancing binge. They had left after work on Friday and just got home on Sunday. So I decided to wait until Monday to call.

Monday night came and during the football game I decided to call. Not a big game. Just a random mid-season MNF game. Elway & the Broncos vs Raiders. While we were chatting one of the intermittent freight trains came by right outside my back door. I noticed at that point that even with the noise of the train, I could still hear the football game. I asked “are you watching Monday Night Football?” Without hesitation she answered “Always.” Turns out she was a Broncos fan because Gary Kubiak was their backup QB. It would become apparent to me over the years that she always rooted for Aggies in the NFL. Even if they were playing the Cowboys which was a minor irritant. At least until Jerry came along, at which point I quit caring so much. Coincidence? I think not.

So a beautiful woman. Who not only loves football, but likes to watch it on TV. We went out a few days later on our first real date. To see Eddie Raven at Borrowed Money. But that’s another story.

It was Tacos, Football & 99 cent Margaritas that brought us together to make the love that we believed we were destined all our lives to find, a reality.

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Us Time

Boats have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories of my parents were being at Lake Worth with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. I remember my Dad water skiing, young & vibrant. Laughing. But Mom & Dad divorced and Mom married a Navy man. We moved to Bremerton, WA, then Southern California, then Guam. We didn’t own a boat during that time, but the beach and local marinas were where I was most happy as a kid. I was thirteen before we came back to Texas to stay.img_2081One of the first things my Stepdad did was buy a boat. From 13 to 30 I always lived near or on a lake and I almost always had access to a boat. But never owned one. About 5 years ago I got the bug. Esposa and I were at Cabela’s and ended up sitting on a pontoon boat in the showroom. I had it bad, her not so much. She wasn’t sold on the lake life and while not saying no, she wasn’t an enthusiastic yes either.

So she made me a deal. She had seen an ad for a boat club. Sort of a shared ownership thing. The club owned a bunch of boats and as a member you could reserve any one you wanted. Just pay for the gas. I was reluctant but made what I thought was a great deal. July 4th was coming up and I said if they can get us on the lake on July 4th we’ll join.

If not, we buy one.

Guess what?

They had a  boat available, so we joined. It wasn’t bad. A lot of the headaches of ownership were gone. But there was competition for reservations. It wasn’t always possible to get a boat on the weekends. But we worked around it. And the skeptical Esposa was smitten. She loved life on the lake. I’ve never seen her more relaxed than those boat club days just drifting with the wind. Watching awesome sunsets. Enjoying cold beverages. But the boat club got old. People didn’t care for the boats. Something was always broken. Most often it was the depth finder which is a must on a lake in Texas in the summer. So last year we decided to buy one. We looked for months. Even after we found the one we wanted it took some time for us to get the jack together to buy it. On weekends we would go to the boat dealership to “pet the boat”.

Finally the day came. We christened our 24″ Black & Tan tri-toon the “Us Time”. We had a full summer. On the lake whenever we wanted.

Lots of sunsets.

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Lots of chilling.

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Lots of family time, Us Time.

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Top 40 Countdown

In October Esposa and I decided to reprise our 2012 Tuscaloosa road trip to the Bama game. In 2012 Budman was a high school senior exploring college options and the Ags had Johnny Football. Seemed like a great time for a road trip.

This time Budman was a junior at A&M and had his own road trip plans, so we decided to go it solo. In true “grown up” fashion we decided that staying in Meridian, MS made sense. Rooms are scarce in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham is an hour in the wrong direction. Made sense at the time.

We found our parking spot at around 9:00 am and the day drinking began. We had a liter of Tito’s and a six pack of Red Bulls to pour up into our 32 oz. Raceway styrofoam cups for the hike in. That didn’t last long. We connected with the Budman crew, finding their tailgate. In true student fashion there was one tent, one table, 7 or 8 coolers full of alcohol and no food. We hooked them up with some chicken strip dinners from a food truck (it was awesome) and went on our way.

We made the rounds, grabbed some lunch ourselves and visited the bar that wouldn’t let us in after we beat Bama in 2012. Headed into the game and were just beaten down by the time the clock finally ran out on our Ags.

The long walk back to the truck. The long drive back to Meridian.

About an hour in we were flagging. I was watching the mile markers count down to the Mississippi state line. I saw mile marker 40 and was inspired. “I know, Top 40 Countdown. Every mile we talk about a top 40 highlight of our lives together” We alternated. First me, then her.

For that last 40 miles of Alabama we traded our most precious memories over the last 30 odd years since we met. Special loving moments, the kids and on and on for 40 miles.

It was the most special Top 40 ever.

In less than two months her life would change forever. So would mine.

And so that is how the last 40 miles of Alabama east of the Mississippi state line became my Number one memory of all time.

Changes

I used to love this blog. Then it got to be like a job. I was trying to force things to post about. I stressed over it. So I quit. Tried to come back last year, couldn’t quite pull it off. But life is a funny thing. Just when you think you have nothing more to say something happens and you realize there were a ton of things to say, stories to tell, events to share. Some of the problem is Facebook/Twitter. Why keep up with a whole blog when you can click share or post pics to tell your story?

But life can’t be told in 140 characters can it? And even the most mundane Facebook post can spark uncivil war. So maybe it’s time to revisit the old Suburban Guerrilla homeblog. Tell some stories that need to be told and some that don’t. There have been a lot of things happen in this trailer park since I last posted regularly. Lots of epic tailgates. Two puppies have joined the crew and one has been lost. The Princess and Budman have grown up and out.

So I think I’ll try to go back and capture some of those stories. Memorialize some of those precious memories. Share some of those good times. And that is important because life brings unexpected changes. We’re all going to need those great memories as we live through some not so great times.

Life can change in an instant. In our case it was not like a lightning bolt. More like a slow motion train wreck. It started with a cold. Or the flu. Or some other passing annoyance that just hung around. The Esposa got sick. Then her Mother passed away. Facing a long car trip we decided to hit the ER for a Z pack and maybe an inhaler. In and out we thought. Go early in the AM, out in time to stop for lunch while the pharmacy filled the prescriptions.

If only.

Within an hour pneumonia was diagnosed. Within two she was in the ICU. By dinnertime on a ventilator, packed in ice to bring down her 105 degree fever. Within 24 hours chemically paralyzed and strapped into a device that kept her flipped on her front side so her lungs could expand. Within 48 hours tests confirmed she had Legionnaire’s pneumonia. We almost lost her. Christmas came and went. Then New Year’s. But she fought her way through it. Weak and beat down. All we needed was a couple of weeks in rehab. Physical therapy. Get her strength back.

If only.

Doctors at the rehab hospital were concerned about a potential intestinal blockage. They ordered an abdominal CT scan. Then they scheduled another for the next day, with dye this time. What they didn’t say was that they found concerning liver spots on the first one and needed the second to confirm a diagnosis. A diagnosis that no one would enunciate. It was there in their downcast eyes. In their lowered voices. Transferred back to the big hospital for more confirming tests, biopsies and such.

After 4 days the diagnosis was clear, but the tests would take several more days to come back. So we fought our way out of the hospital, lined up some home nurses and she got to sleep in her own bed for the first time in three weeks. Oncology appointments. Chemotherapy. Surgical insertion of a chemo port. Now, just fight through it. It’s just lost hair and nausea.

If only.

Four weeks in, oncologist notices an irregular pulse rate. Referred to a cardiologist. Diagnosis? Atrial Fibrillation. More pills. More risk. More worries.

Multiple times throughout this truly slow motion two month and counting train wreck I have thrown up my hands. “Jesus take the wheel!” But I always grab it back, try to fake like I’m in control again, only to realize (once again) that I’m not in charge here.

So to keep myself from looking forward past the next round of meds, the next round of chemo, the next doctor’s appointment; I’m going to look back. Write stories about the good times. Road trip to Tuscaloosa to watch Johnny Football beat Bama. Buying a boat last summer. Nights at the Dixie Chicken. Years worth of good memories to retain, relive and retell.

A sweet distraction from the truth. The truth is that I lack the faith and courage to relinquish control of my life to God. And maybe while I’m distracted I can finally cede control. Finally have the faith that I need to have. And let God take control.

Good times.

 

I’m thinking……

I might be back. It’s been 5 years since I’ve logged in here. At the beginning it was fun posting on here. Then it started to be like a job. Then Facebook and Twitter took off, much less pressure. And eventually I just quit posting here.

A lot has happened since I last posted. The Princess graduated from college. Budman finished high school and went off to college, he will graduate next year. Our pup passed away at 13 years of age, so  Esposa and I settled into our suddenly very empty nest.

So, I’m thinking I have things to say. This might as well be the place to say it. To heck with Facebook and Twitter. I’m too slow witted and long winded for either of them. Plus connecting with people you haven’t seen in 20-25 years can sometimes remind you why you haven’t seen them in a long time.

So….here we go. Let’s see what happens.

Tough out.

 

America’s Debt

There has been a lot of political rhetoric thrown about during the recent debates on raising the debt ceiling. Finally I have found a politician that speaks to me on federal debt:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies . . . Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Americans deserve better indeed. The thoughtful politician who uttered those words?

Barack H. Obama on March 20, 2006 as he prepared to vote against raising the debt ceiling at the request of the Bush administration.

Goodbye Old Friend

...so God can look down and watch His team play.

It all came tumbling down today. Just like Jerry said it would. I tried hard to be bitter, but the new stadium is just so awesome.

But that doesn’t make watching Texas Stadium reduced to rubble any easier. I avoided watching all day. And even when I thought I had it down and was ready to watch, it took my breath away.

It’s hard to describe why an old sports venue evokes such emotion. Guess it doesn’t have to be old, I felt the same way about Reunion Arena when it returned to dust. But I guess it has to do with decades of recollections.

From high school in the 70’s when the stadium was brand new, going to watch the Cowboys play the Vikings. My friend’s girlfriend was part of the halftime show and we had a double date set up for after. We sat at the very top of the end zone.

To watching my number two son play a little league football game there when he was about 9 or 10. The Princess was just a baby but even she seemed fascinated by the place and watching her Bubba play ball there.

To the many high school playoff games there, Westlake winning a state championship, Plano winning and losing hard fought playoff games. And probably the most famous (locally) high school game of all – 1994’s Tyler John Tyler vs. Plano East. East’s improbable comeback and the even more improbable result.

So many memories. Too many to chronicle.

Farewell Texas Stadium. You’ll live forever in our hearts and on Youtube.