Archive for July, 2013

Road trip produces profundities

Fourteen hours in a car with 5 kids under 10. What’s there to learn (besides the obvious “Don’t do this again!!”)? Plenty.

1. Your neighbor will offend you.

My neighbor said my packed vehicle looked a little like Clark Griswold’s of Vacation movie fame. I was offended. The nerve of him. My vehicle looked A LOT like Clark Griswold’s!

2. Your 3-year-old will know if you deposit anything sweet into your mouth.

He was on the back row next to the window watching a video. How could he have possibly seen, much less identified, my subtle nose scratch that may or may not have included the placement of candy into my mouth? “I want some M&M’s!” Me, too. Me, too. Me, too. Me, too.

3. There are many nice cars on the road these days. You’re not driving one of them.

4. There are clean restrooms out there. You will not find them.

5. Your children don’t know their landforms.

As we drove through rural Louisiana, I asked my oldest son what type of land we were traveling through. I expected “swamp” or “bayou” or “marsh.” Instead he guessed, “Redneck?” Thank you, Duck Dynasty.

6. Mothers of boys are quite poetic.

As we loaded back up from a stop, my wife invited her four sons to “speak now or forever hold your pee.”

7. Brothers will go to extreme measures to annoy their siblings.

“Mo-om! Cooper won’t wipe his boogers!”

8. Finally, your wife will ridicule your attempts to equip your vehicle with modern entertainment technology.

Too cheap to pay $1,000 for a professionally-installed DVD player, I forked over $200 at BestBuy for a couple of 7-inch Velcro-strapped video screens, a cigarette lighter power inverter and an 8 foot extension cord. (The extension cord because I’m too cheap to fix the cigarette lighter on the front dash – only the one in the back works.)

By 11:00 p.m. on the eve of our trip, I may have had cords criss-crossing the vehicle, but I had DVD players that worked. I even had the audio piped through the vehicle speakers. (Well, just the speakers on the left side; the right side quit about a year ago.)

Full of pride, I invited my better half to see the masterpiece – the promise of a peaceful car ride.

“It looks like a rolling Radio Shack. Someone could get hung in there.”

That’s it. Back to books and “I spy” and old-fashioned imagination. Chevy Caprice station wagon-style with rear-facing back seats and all!

The curse of the modern in-car video system is that it raises the expectation that the long-distance car ride will be easier than it used to be. It’s not. It’s still a long hard slog through bayous and brothers and boogers. Ahhh, the stuff of memories, the filling of life.

 

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at www. kwt.info.

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An open letter to Pop

[Author’s note: This column also appeared in today’s San Antonio Express-News.]

Dear Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs,

I love sports. I love basketball. I love coaching. I love character more.

As hard as the Heat defeat was, I prefer it to this alternative: Winning without character. More than winning, I want to support teams my sons can look up to. You have delivered both in your years at the helm of the San Antonio Spurs. Thank you.

I hate to lose. I hate missed free throws. I hate turnovers late in games. I hate stars who don’t treat their stardom judiciously. Notables who lord their notoriety over us or, worse yet, embarrass us all with their bizarreness. Celebrities hardly worth celebrating.

But you understand that life is bigger than pro sports, spotlights and fame.

It’s why you don’t say much to the on-court reporter between quarters. It’s why you did speak to the thousand fans gathered at the airport to welcome home a losing team. Your measuring stick of success is different than most, and not completely dependent on wins and losses in a kids’ game.

Pop is an appropriate nickname for you. Seeing you and Tim or Tony relaxing on the bench at halftime is like watching a father and son chilling on the couch. We can see a relationship that is, again, bigger than basketball. More about life after temporary moments of glory.

The irony, of course, is that your teams’ moments of glory have been quite regular. Sixteen straight playoff appearances. Eight Western Conference Finals. Five NBA Finals. Four NBA titles. It’s a story of consistency and loyalty not often published in the age of free agency and super-markets.

Speaking of supermarkets, I bet Miami’s “Big 3” didn’t advertise for their local grocer as you and your Big 3 did for H-E-B. And I bet your Big 3 did so, in part, because of your down-to-earthness. Any athlete can endorse Gatorade. It takes something special to market private label salsa.

Your guys have always had something special. The Admiral, for instance. But you helped elevate him to a championship level. Tim was talented coming in. But you’ve helped him stay competitive long after the critics insisted was possible.

Without you, Tony’s prima donna instincts may have led him astray. Manu would still be whining to the refs as Lebron does. And what a joy to watch Kawhi and Danny and Gary come into their own under your leadership.

We Spurs fans didn’t sleep well during the last week of the Finals. The losses hurt — especially, perhaps, because our Spurs are the only game in town. Plus, it feels like the end of an era, like there won’t be a next year, with this group, at this level.

But you made it easier. The way you smiled when it was over. The way you hugged Lebron like he was your own. You weren’t being disloyal. You were simply saying relationships are more valuable than winning — or losing — even at the highest level. That’s a message we all need to hear.

 

Kevin Thompson is a weekly columnist for The Boerne Star in the Texas Hill Country. Follow him at www.kwt.info.


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