Ping-Pong and Playboys

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During my lifetime, I have had hundreds of haircuts. Probably one haircut every 2-3 months (less during my mullet years in college) since I was at least one.

A haircut is just that, a haircut. Really nothing momentous about them. I have had haircuts in salons as well as barber-shops. I have had women and men both cut my hair. I don’t have a regular stylist at this time – no need as my hairline recedes a little more each year.

Years ago though, I did have a regular barber. His name was Mr. Schroeder (I never knew his first name). He cut mine and my brother’s hair…in the basement of his house.

We would all pile into the station wagon and my mom would drive us to our appointments. Downstairs we would go, entering from the side door of his house. I never saw the upstairs of where he and his wife lived – but we explored the entire basement many times.

Down the stairs, and to the left, he had a barbershop set up – just like any barbershop anywhere. There were mirrors and scissors. He had a girly calendar and manly smelling liquids. Combs sat in blue liquid and cans of “I don’t know what” sat on the counter. He had an old manual cash register, which clicked when you punched the buttons.

In the middle of his “barbershop” stood his actual barber chair. It was perfect. Red leather and chrome. Not fancy, but functional. Well used and well cared for.

We – my brothers and I – would climb on the chair one at a time. Early on, we would use the booster chair so that he could reach us. Eventually, we would outgrow that. We would be wrapped in a black cape to protect our clothes and skin from the cut hair. I can still feel his steady hands tucking the piece of white tissue paper between the cape and my collar. To this day, I think of him every time someone else does this.

Mr. Schroeder did not talk much during the haircut. He had a job to do – and probably little to discuss with young boys. He went about his work, taking care of business. If we had conversations, I don’t recall any. Likely, my lack of recall is due to the fact that my attention would constantly be pulled into another room of his basement where my brothers would be – the family room.

Ping pong and Playboys – that was the entertainment set up in the family room of Mr. Schroeder’s barber shop. That was where we spent the downtime during our two-hour haircut appointments.

No cell phones, no Xbox or Nintendo systems, not even cable television. Ping pong was the primary distraction – since we could do that without getting into trouble. Playboys were the challenge…you had to look at them surreptitiously…like a thief stealing precious jewels. He had other magazines (including Reader’s Digest) but they held little interest, other than to cover up the Playboys.

We played a lot of ping-pong. You would have thought that we would have gotten good at it. Truth is that we sucked. Rarely could we keep a volley going for more than three hits. The majority of the time we spent playing the game was spent digging under the couch chasing the lost balls. Luckily the balls could do little damage to the ceramic decorations that Mrs. Schroeder had in the family room.

I’ve never been to a barbershop quite the same since. Many have girly magazines, but none had a ping-pong table or crocheted doilies. It was unusual and different. It was fun (as much fun as three boys can have getting haircuts) and memorable.

I mentioned this memory to my brothers. They both had their own strong memories of this experience. Chris still remembers the smell of the place. Joel actually came up with the title of this post. They both, along with Mr. Schroeder, helped me make this memory.

Hold hands….

 

When Do Politics Decide Friendship?

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Wonderful thoughts. Too many people take too hard a stance.

J.S. Park



lovelyishe asked a question:

 What is your opinion on the stance that you should end a friendship because of differing political opinions? Is there a time when you believe it is best to drift apart from them or no?

Hey dear friend, this is certainly a difficult, relevant question today, as it seems political differences more than ever are not merely a disagreement of opinions, but becoming an aggressively different opinion of human value, with all kinds of dangerous implications.

I’m fortunate and blessed to have friends with a wide range of political beliefs who are open to discourse or even changing their minds. Not every person on the opposite side of politics acts like the caricatures you’ve seen online. There are many, many thoughtful people across the spectrum that do not fall easily into our biased categories.

My concern is not that everyone has to agree a particular…

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Reflections

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Every year people spend this time reflecting on the past year. Perhaps we had a bad year and we hope for something better. Perhaps we had a good year and look forward to continuing that momentum. However, life generally is not that neat. A year is not either good or bad. Some days are good and others are not. Even hours and minutes can change direction multiple times as we move forward in the year.

Overall, I have had a good year. I smiled and laughed more than I have frowned and cried. I experienced ups more than downs. I have had wonderful little moments that mean so much, and big moments that mean even more.

My family is healthy. We are fortunate that our biggest health concern is Ainsley’s orthodontics. Ian’s autism is certainly always on our mind, however, he does so well most of the time, it is easy to let it slip away from time to time. The children are getting older and bigger. They are growing up.

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My family having a taste testing

My family is happy. They smile and enjoy their lives. They share time with each other and with their dear friends. We eat supper together at the dinner table more often than not, and we experience what is going on in each others lives. Eventhough we share activities les than before, we still share many. And they politely endure my photography and my desire to continue engaging in community activities.

20160619_081126My family is safe. We have a wonderful home that is warm and dry. Our grass is green and our neighbors are friendly. We are protected from the outside in our home and it provides a setting for much of our lives.

So much has happened this past year, that it would be impossible to celebrate all the events and memories. Each of the kids had milestones and events. They are progressing in their lives, both socially and academically.

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The family at the Como Zoo in St.Paul, MN

We spent time traveling to various cities as either a couple or a group.

And in June, Tiffany and I got married! It was so much fun to celebrate this moment and memory with so many people and I am very lucky to have Tiffany as my wife.

Celebrating our new marriage

The happy couple

After spending time reviewing, and reliving all these memories, I have made a decision that I am intending to participate in the thought per day movement. I think that this is so much fun to do and hope that it will allow me to reflect daily on what my life truly means.

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My New Year Resolution

Here’s to a special 2017. God bless and hold hands!

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