My First Ever Political Rally

I don’t get excited about politics. In fact, I don’t have a political bone in my body. However, I am attracted to the presidential election for two reasons: strategy and competition.

Much to the chagrin of Sidney, I have watched the Democratic and Republican debates with great interest. I enjoy watching the candidates compete with each other. Because I have watched these debates, I have learned a lot about the candidates from both sides.

Living in South Carolina is pretty cool right now. Our state is on a national stage as candidates campaign for the primaries that will be held on Saturday (Republican) and later this month (Democrat). These presidential contenders are taking over South Carolina as they hold rallies and town halls in every nook and cranny of the state.

Tonight I went to my first ever political rally. I saw Marco Rubio in North Myrtle Beach.

Tonight I went to my first ever political rally. I saw Marco Rubio in North Myrtle Beach.

Wanting to capitalize on this madness, I attended my first ever political rally tonight. As I mentioned, I have watched all the debates and this has led me to get a good gauge of each candidate. Because I feel like I kind of know each presidential hopeful, both Democrat and Republican, I thought it would be kind of cool to see one in person.

Marco Rubio rolled into town this evening and Sidney and I decided to go see him. We didn’t do this for political reasons, we did this for the experience.

We arrived to a packed conference center in North Myrtle Beach about 15 minutes before the rally was about to start. As all the chairs were already taken, we stood about 80 feet from the stage. As we waited, patriotic music played and diehard Rubio supporters started chants. Finally, it was show time.

Tonight’s rally reminded me a lot of a concert or comedy shows; you have opening acts. Before Rubio talked we heard from a random elderly woman, the mayor of Myrtle Beach, and a congressman. Then, before Rubio took the stage, there was one more speaker. U.S. Senator Tim Scott introduced his Florida colleague. Scott, the South Carolina senator not named Lindsey Graham, was a phenomenal speaker. It was actually a lot of fun to listen to him talk and he gave Marco Rubio an awesome introduction.

A photo I took of Senator Tim Scott tonight. The guy could really talk!

A photo I took of Senator Tim Scott tonight. The guy could really talk!

As you might expect, Rubio came out and claimed the stage with energy. As the crowd chanted “Marco! Marco! Marco!” he waited for it to die down just a bit and then he spoke into the microphone for the first time.

“Please don’t say Polo,” he quipped.

That line pretty much summed up his 40 minute address. Throughout his whole talk he constantly made jokes…and most of them were funny. Even when he alluded to Trump he did it with humor. The only time his tone noticeably changed was when he talked about Hillary Clinton. When he criticized her the words seemed to shoot out of his mouth like venom and it was the exact same serious Rubio most of you have watched during the debates.

This is where we stood during the rally (no zoom).

This is where we stood during the rally (no zoom).

But besides a couple of those moments, he gave an engaging, humorous address. He also did it seamlessly. His speech was clear and well-delivered but it also seemed a little packaged too. He knows what he believes and he has no problem at all getting those beliefs across. He just stood up on that stage and did his thing. Each time I said to myself, “Now when is he going to start talking about (insert a political issue)…” he literally segued right into talking about it! It was weird.

Marco Rubio in the middle of his speech.

Marco Rubio in the middle of his speech.

Even though I had never attended a political rally before, the audience was exactly how I thought it would be. They clapped loudly, they yelled out answers to Rubio’s hypothetical questions, they audibly said “YES” whenever he talked about his platform, and they booed when he brought up a rival.

I was standing on some bleacher steps when I snapped this photo of Marco Rubio.

I was standing on some bleacher steps when I snapped this photo of Marco Rubio.

The speech was well done but he drew out the ending. After he said “in conclusion” he went on for about ten minutes. But he made up for it afterwards as I watched him interact with all the excited people who wanted to meet him. Although I wasn’t necessarily “excited”, I thought since I was at my first political rally I would meet my first presidential candidate. After Rubio had already stayed out in the conference room for at least 20 minutes after his speech, he took the time to shake my hand and take a photo with Sidney and I.

You bet! Sidney and I met Marco Rubio

You bet! Sidney and I met Marco Rubio

Although the political life isn’t for Sidney or I, we enjoyed tonight’s experience. Living in South Carolina we have the opportunity to watch firsthand the race to the most powerful office in the world. Informed or ignorant about politics and policies, this is something that all of us who are able to should take advantage of. Don’t Blink.

It’s the Thought that Counts

This time of year gives me the formal opportunity to celebrate Sidney. Her birthday falls at the end of January and then just a couple weeks later comes Valentine’s Day. Some people might refer to it in a negative light as a “double whammy” but I embrace it. What is better than celebrating the person you love?

Of course the people who believe the closeness of the two dates is bad luck will mostly point to monetary and planning issues. Husbands, fiances, and boyfriends are expected to go out of their way to make their significant other feel special (as they should!). However, I would argue that in order to sufficiently celebrate your loved one you only really need to concentrate on one of the “issues” mentioned above.

Hint: I am not talking about the monetary one.

Last year I took Sidney on a weekend getaway to Charlotte for her birthday and treated her to a delicious dinner at Ruth’s Chris for Valentine’s Day. This year I looked forward to doing something a little different. Fresh off of paying for a honeymoon while at the same time looking down the road at many other expenses that will present themselves as we approach the wedding, I challenged myself to be more fiscally responsible. However, I knew “fiscally responsible” could still translate into “making her feel special.”

Instead of going out of town for her birthday this year, we celebrated right here in Myrtle Beach. I went to the school she teaches at to enjoy the lunch hour with her. I arrived with a Subway sandwich, Diet Coke, and pack of Sour Patch Kids for her to enjoy (all her favorites). Although she could have totally been lying through her teeth, Sid said that she really enjoyed having me there. The best part was when I watched the whole cafeteria sing “Happy Birthday” to her.

I loved watching the students and teachers sing Happy Birthday to Sidney.

I loved watching the students and teachers sing Happy Birthday to Sidney.

Later that night, Sidney’s family gathered together and we enjoyed pizza. She opened my gifts to her and we all had a relaxing time. Sure we weren’t at an NBA game or in some fancy movie theater but we were with family. It was perfect.

About a week before February 14, Sid and I both pledged to each other that we would go easy on Valentine’s Day. Again, just because we agreed to keep things simple didn’t mean we couldn’t make each other feel valued.

When Sidney awoke on Sunday, she had a surprise waiting for her on the table downstairs. The piece of furniture was adorned with a simple flower arrangement, a cheesy balloon, another pack of Sour Patch Kids, and a card that came from the heart. Oh yes, at the very end was our favorite type of breakfast to eat together…Bojangles!!

I gave Sidney a very simple Valentine's Day surprise.

I gave Sidney a very simple Valentine’s Day surprise.

A couple hours later we left her place not to go to a fancy steakhouse but rather to go to her sister’s house. It was here, the exact same place we celebrated her birthday, where we had a Valentine’s Day chicken bog lunch. And believe me, I think that meal hit the spot harder than any filet mignon would have.

Of course Sidney one-upped me. She wrote an even better card than I did and she made me one of my favorite dinners on Friday night. Then, to top it all off, she even let me choose the movie we watched on Sunday!

You don’t always have to go to extravagant lengths on birthdays and other holidays. Sometimes the cliché of all clichés is right…it is the thought that counts. Don’t Blink.

The Proposal (Her Side)

Note: This afternoon, Sidney takes over Don’t Blink and writes a very special blog post in honor of Valentine’s Day.

I am sure you have all heard the old adage “There are three sides to every story…his side…her side…and the truth.” To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I want to share with you MY side of the story. You’ve all heard and/or read his version..but now it’s my turn…

In honor of Valentine's Day, I would like to tell my version of The Proposal.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to tell my version of The Proposal.

A very integral part of my version of this story is anything but happy. In the months leading up to the moment that Brent proposed, my grandmother was very sick. She was ailing from cancer that was found at a time when she was much too frail for treatment. She celebrated her 90th birthday in April of 2015, and for a couple years her mind had started to give way to age. Her memory was spotty. While she could recount endless stories from her childhood, she could never really remember meeting the love of my life.

Now let me be more specific. Brent had (on dozens of occaisions) been in the presence of my grandmama. He’d been introduced to her. She’d called him very handsome and well mannered, but she truly never met him. Every time we visited her, she shook his hand as if it were the first time. She never remembered him. It pained me, but Brent always made light of the situation, because he liked being called handsome each time he saw her. Now in June of 2015, her health had made a progressive decline and she was spending all of her time sleeping soundly in bed under the watchful eye of my Aunt Martha (who I lovingly call Mema) and my own mother. I knew in my heart that her days were drawing closer to the end of her fulfilled life and because of this I had been spending much of my free time at my Mema’s house with my grandma.

My grandma and I way back on my high school graduation.

My grandma and I way back on my high school graduation.

Brent and I had planned a fantastic two week vacation to the Pacific Northwest to spend some well-deserved time with his family. He had all sorts of activities planned and I was eccstatic! The day before we departed for our cross-continental flight, I was desperate for help in packing. I needed the help of my aunt and mother. My mother who is a phenom with an iron, gladly offered her assistance, but she said I needed to bring my suitcase and clothes to my aunt’s house. She couldn’t leave my grandmother’s side, but she welcomed a chance to preoccupy herself with the mindless task of ironing. So that’s just what I did. I threw all of my clothes in my suitcase, hauled it out to my car, and went to my Mema’s.

While packing and ironing, my Mema causually asked about where I saw my relationship going with Brent. I very quickly announced that I wanted to marry him. My mother and aunt both had eyes the size of saucers and asked when I presumed all of this martial bliss would come to be. I told them I thought he’d pop the question while we were on holiday in the northwest. Furthermore, I proclaimed my fear that Brent would ask me at the top of the “M” in Montana (a mountain that overlooks the campus of the University of Montana in Missoula). Why was it such a fear? Because I was afraid I would not make it to the top of the mountain, in which case Brent would realize what a helpless gal I am, and scrap the entire proposal altogether. My aunt burst into a fit of giggles, and throughout the rest of the day teased me about the mountain.

We continued packing, and as I placed my final articles of clothing into my suitcase, my mother says “Your sister is making pancakes for dinner tonight. What are you going to eat?” I glanced up and quickly replied “Pancakes sound good. Count me in.” She exchanged quick glances with my aunt and then replied very slowly “ooooooookaaaaaayyyy?” I thought the moment odd, but continued zipping my oversized luggage. My phone pinged on the coffee table—

Brent: Have you looked at the menu for Wahoo’s tonight? Everything looks so good.

Shit. I thought. I totally flaked and forgot Brent had some dumb work fundraiser at the Marshwalk (I would later learn that the “fundraiser” was something Brent made up to make me go to dinner with him). I told mama and Mema about my blunder and told them I would have to skip the pancake dinner. At which point, they both tried to push me out the door.

My mother said I needed to go home and shower, freshen my make-up, and do something with my mop of hair. Jeez mother.

I wasn’t ready to leave my grandmother’s bedside. I had been wandering in and out of her bedroom that day, taking my time laying beside her and having brief chit-chats when she felt strong enough to talk. I told my mama that I had a whole suitcase of clothes, I could wear one of my old dresses. What about my hair? I could tame it into a low bun, that would be presentable. My make-up? I had my make-up kit and would freshen it up before I left. She seemed to ease a bit with my plan, but was INSISTENT upon the fact that I NOT wear an old dress. She picked out a new one I had purchased for my trip, and I obliged. I called Brent, asked if we could meet at the restaurant instead of riding together, and he kindly agreed.

As I was leaving to meet Brent at the restaurant, mama and Mema both were fawning all over me. I would never complain of such a thing. I loved all the extra attention. They were saying I looked beautiful, they loved me, they thought my dress was gorgeous, etc. Yadda-yadda-yadda. I gladly welcomed all the praise, and sashayed out of the door floating on a cloud of compliments.

I arrived at the restaurant, parked, and waited for Brent, who called to say he was just a few minutes away. As I sat in my parked car, I saw Brent drive by and hopped out the car and walked to meet him near the door. As I walked toward B., I mentally took note of his new outfit. He was wearing a fitted collared shirt with orange trim-detail that matched my dress. He was also wearing a pair of jeans that made his tushy look nice, but I noted his pockets were bulging. I rolled my eyes. Brent and I have had many-a-conversation where I have criticized him for carrying a nonsensical amount of CRAAAAPPP in his pockets. Not wanting to ruin the dinner, I made a concious decision not to mention it.

We proceeded inside the restaurant. We waited for a while before we were seated. Brent was clearly perturbed because he’d made reservations. When we were finally seated the service was anything but spectacular. The restaurant was packed. We were sitting on the porch outdoors, where it was muggy and humid. Our food took fooooorrrreeevvver, and when it did arrive, Brent inhaled his burger. He was fervently tappinig away at his phone, to which he made off-handed apologies that he was finishing up last minute work before we left the next day. I could feel the tension radiating from Brent. He seemed anxious. I asked if he was okay, to which he responded he was excited, but in a hurry to get going, because he needed to finish packing. As we waited for the waitress to bring us the check, I tried to ease Brent’s nerves by posing for a picture. He seemed to simmer-down for a few beats, until we headed for the door.

This was the photo we posed for moments before the fireworks happened.

This was the photo we posed for moments before the fireworks happened.

As we left, we took a back door out onto a ramp that led to the Marshwalk pier. The vantage point from this ramp was unbelievable. It was such a good view that as Brent held my hand (basically dragging me) I spotted a silver SUV with a black liscense plate pulling into the parking lot. “Hey! Brent….wait. That’s mama and daddy!!” Never skipping a beat, he continued to pull me along and replied “Really? No way? Call and see.” So I fumbled for my phone and dialed my mom. Here is the transcription of our 30 second conversation:

Mama: Helllllloooo???( the dragged out the word in an unnatural manner.)

ME: Where are you? Are you at the marshwalk? I swear I just saw you and Daddy.

Mama: No honey. We’re here with Grandma. Where is Brent?

Me: He’s right here. We’re walking up the Marshwalk. We just finished dinner. It was really good. I had crab cakes..Brent had a bur—-

Mama: Okay sounds good. I have to go. I love you. Byeeeee.

Click of the reciever.

Anyway…Brent and I continued down the Marshwalk. He had evened his pace more with mine. As we strolled through the throngs of tourists, I could hear a live band across the marsh playing the song “My Girl”. I lovingly started singing along with band, and Brent squeezed my hand as we walked. As we neared the end of the Marshwalk, I noted a woman with a teal CCU t-shirt taking photos of the wild life. I asked Brent if he was going to pester her, much like he does with other people he sees in public wearing Coastal gear. He gave me a very curt “No”. We inched closer to the end of the pier.

When we reached the end of the pier, Brent took my to-go box from the restaurant from my hands and placed it on a bench. He took both my hands into his own. In that instant my mind snapped into high drive. Is he going to propose. Is this it? Is that CCU young lady taking my picture right now? Am I hallucinating? Did my mother just lie to me? Why are all of the people on the pier slowly retreating to the other end? Oh My Gosh! OH MY GOSH! OOOOOHHH MMYYYGOOOSSSH!

And then it happened. Brent shared sweet words of love and commitment, dropped to his knee, and pulled out a ring. No doubt the buldge in his pocket from earlier. My only reaction was to take his face into my hands. I needed to feel that this moment was in fact REAL. As I leaned forward and grabbed his face, my hands were quickly met with the warmth of his skin, and the unbelievable confirmation that it was real. He had asked me to marry him. I said yes!!

My recollection of the rest of the night is very much the same as what Brent has outlined before. It was indeed my parents in the parking lot, and they met us at the end of the pier to celebrate.

The next day, I woke up from a dizzy haze of excitement, and made my way to Mema’s. I wanted to share this exciting news with her and my grandma. I showed my ring to them both. Mema “oohed” and “ahhhed” and asked if I was relieved I didn’t have to climb the mountain. Ha. Ha.

I gently roused my grandmother from a nap to share with her the news, to which she was in disbelief. She told me she loved me and was happy for me. I crawled next to her in bed, and rest my head near her shoulder. I hadn’t noticed that my mama and aunt had slipped out of the room. I was laying there next to her and I told her that I loved her very much. I told her that I was going on a trip and would be back in two weeks to plan a wedding. In my heart, I knew I wasn’t telling her goodbye for my trip. I was telling her goodbye forever. I know that these were my last moments with my grandmother. She would not make it through my two weeks out west. She kissed my hand, and slowly drifted back to sleep. And I silently wept holding her hand.

When I emerged from her bedroom, my eyes met the tearfilled eyes of my mother and aunt. They had watched the whole ordeal transpire on a video baby monitor that my aunt had set up a few weeks earlier. I ran for my mama and buried my face deep into her shoulder. Both Mema and mama assured me all would be fine, to enjoy my trip and that they’d see me when I returned.

All be it tumultuous, Brent and I made the cross country trip and landed in Spokane. Upon landing, Brent’s mom, Mary, greeted us. We loaded our luggage into her car, and headed for home.

I turned on my cell phone, and was immediately greeted with the happy ping of a voicemail. I listened closely to the sound of my dad’s voice asking that I call him when I had a chance. My heart sunk. I knew what he’d say. For a split second I considered avoiding the call. If I didn’t call him back, then I didn’t have to confirm the inevitable. I decided against those thoughts, and dialed his number. On the other end of the line, on the other side of the country, he confirmed what I dreaded. My grandma had passed away quietly in the middle of the night. Her funeral service would be in the next few days. He demanded that I not worry. He assured me that grandma would have wanted me to enjoy my trip and not think twice about what was happening in South Carolina.

As I ended the call, I shared with Brent and Mrs. Mary about my grandmother. My head was reeling. What was I going to do? Return to my family? Book a flight back home? And then I raised my head from staring at the floorboard to find Brent’s hand weaved around the passenger seat into the backseat, searching for my hand. I reached out and grabbed it. I then turned to look to his mom. She was trying to very sneakily wipe tears from her cheek. I knew right then. And I will know forevermore. This was family too. I was where I needed to be. I had a new family to take care of me, and I could never have been more thankful.

So as I write today, on February 14, 2016, I am counting down the days to my wedding. It’s under four months away and coming much faster than I had ever expected. In writing this I think I’ve also found my own truth. The truth is that I have found an amazing man. And that I have not one but TWO families who will always be there to love and support me when I need it most. Happy Valentine’s Day. Don’t Blink.

A Heart-Shaped Thursday Rundown

Good evening to you all. I hope it has been a great week for you. If not, hang in there, tomorrow is Friday. Until then, here is the latest Thursday Rundown…

Loving 2016 – I am trying to make the most out of each day this year. Why so? Well, for starters, it is just in my nature. I am the Don’t Blink guy…remember? But in all seriousness, it is just too significant of a year not to live each day up. Of course getting married is a big piece of that. But it is also a Presidential election year and a Summer Olympics year. Things don’t get much more interesting than when you mix those three things together. Each morning when I wake up I am trying to focus on what a charmed time I am living in.

Loving 2016 like it is my job.

Loving 2016 like it is my job.

Valentine’s Day 2016 – With Valentine’s Day falling during Lent and on a Sunday this year, it loses luster for some of us. For others it won’t have a bit of impact at all. Then you have another group that hates the holiday so much already that it doesn’t matter when it falls. Sidney and I actually don’t have plans as of right now. I am thinking we will end up having a nice but low key celebration. No matter how you feel about Valentine’s Day, make sure to be respectful of the people who might think differently than you. Three years ago I wrote this blog post regarding the polarizing nature of the holiday.

Best  Kind of Mail – Speaking of Valentine’s Day, look what I found in the mailbox when I returned home! No matter how old you are, it is always nice to get mail from your parents. Thank you mom and dad!!

So thoughtful of my parents to send this to me!

So thoughtful of my parents to send this to me!

Wal-Mart Kindness – Yesterday I was doing some shopping at Wal-Mart. It came time to check out but I needed stamps. Usually at any Wal-Mart store they will only have one or two registers that have stamps. It was busy and I didn’t want to wait in a long line only to be denied. So, to save time, I asked an associate which one I needed to stand in to purchase my postage. She told me I would just have to go to customer service to buy them after I checked out. I told her thanks and started to wait in a huge line. As I stood there I could feel her looking at me. I wasn’t looking forward to standing in another long line at customer service after I bought my groceries. When I had just a couple shoppers in front of me I could sense the lady wasn’t looking at me anymore. A minute after that observation I noticed that she had approached my soon-to-be checker and mentioned something. I finally reached the front of the line and the checker asked me if I was the one who wanted stamps. Puzzled, I said yes. The employee then told me that the associate had gone to customer service and got the book of stamps for me and brought them up to my line to save me a bunch of time. Thank you!!

Wedding Update #19 – The biggest item I have to mention in this latest update is that we are exactly four months away from the big day! That means Sidney and I are now 2/3 of the way through our engagement (I popped the question in June 2015). This past weekend my mom called Sid’s mom and they had a nice long discussion about wedding developments. The day will be here before we know it.


Have a great rest of your week. As a Valentine’s Day present, Sidney will be blogging for me on Sunday. I will be back in touch on Monday. Have a nice weekend. Don’t Blink.

Remembering Those Board Games

Last week I read an article that stated board games are making a comeback. It said people are yearning for nostalgia and simpler times. To be honest, it seems like I have read the same article five different times over the past decade. Board games always seem to be on the cusp of taking over American life once again.

So while I think the article was just filler by a journalist looking to recycle past story ideas, it did get me thinking about my childhood with board games.

I grew up playing board games. Funny enough, I can almost pinpoint the years of being a kid in relation to the board games I was playing at the time. As a toddler it was Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders (did you really think I was going to give you something original?). After my toddler years there was a two year period or so where my family played Trouble, the game where you must move your pegs around the board and into a home base position. I will never forget the times where one of us kids accidentally (and sometimes purposely) hit the pop-o-matic die contraption so hard that all the pegs flew in the air and scattered everywhere, thus ending the game.

An element of skill was added when we graduated away from the luck of the die to a game called Guess Who. The memory that sticks with me about this game is how pissed off I would get if my person was wearing a hat. It was an automatic death sentence as only about 15% of the character lineup wore one. Seeing past my frustrations, the game was quick and easy while at the same time taught basic reasoning skills. We played that game silly for a couple years.

Before entering my teens, my family hit Monopoly pretty hard. I think it gave us kids the feeling that we were playing an adult game. We butchered the rules in such ways as building up large Free Parking jackpots and paying the wrong amounts on the Luxury Tax square but we had fun. Well, minus my parents. I am pretty sure they hated it.

In the sixth grade my teacher, Jared Hoadley, who is now a big shot in administration within the Mead School District Office, taught us two board games that would end up consuming countless hours of my life. First, he had the patience to teach us chess. I ran with the game for about a year or so and taught my brother how to play. We had some classic battles. The second game he introduced my class to had a lot more staying power. When we learned the game of Scrabble I had no idea that it would become the signature board game of my family nor did I ever think that it would give way to one of the most popular apps of all-time (Words With Friends). But it did.

Mr. Hoadley and the other sixth grade teachers at Farwell Elementary taught us Scrabble to help us with our vocabulary but also so we could compete against another elementary school in the district. My parents bought me my own Scrabble board to practice with and also so they could join in on the fun. Soon enough it was the game of choice for the Reser family. To this day, on the rare occasions where we are all together, we still pull out the Scrabble board.

We didn’t always play nice or play fair when we had our family game nights but for the most part these board game evenings were a very memorable part of my childhood. I mean heck, what else are you going to do for entertainment when your parents didn’t believe in Nintendo or any other gaming system? Several other games came in and out of the picture over the years but the ones I mentioned above are on the Reser Mt. Rushmore of board games.

Sidney’s sister and brother-in-law have purchased board games for their kids. When we have our own children, I want to follow their lead. Yes, every now and then some journalist will say that board games are making a comeback, but don’t take that too seriously. In our electronic world, they are dying off a little more each day. Don’t Blink.

Reserving Seats

Believe it or not, the angry mother at Great Clips wasn’t the only awkward situation I observed last Saturday. For the other episode I take you to a place I have brought up before in this blog…my church.

St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach attracts large crowds. Because St. Andrew is one of the few Catholic parishes in the Grand Strand area and because Myrtle Beach is a magnet for tourists and snowbirds, our weekend masses fill up. Even with five services offered throughout the Saturday and Sunday, the church seems to get packed for each different mass.

As our pastor Fr. James LeBlanc says, “February is a busy time for us.” You see, this is the peak month where folks who call other northern states and northern countries (Canada) home migrate down south to spend the colder months in our little slice of paradise. The second month of the year is when you see this population truly balloon.

The mass that I prefer to attend lately is the 4:30 p.m. Saturday vigil mass. I have learned that during this time of the year if you don’t arrive at least 15 minutes early you will be hard pressed to find a spot. This past Saturday I walked in the church at around 4:11 p.m. and it seemed as if every seat was already taken! I kept walking down the outer aisle hoping a place would pop up. It was not until I reached the second row to the front that I saw some actual wood of the pew. In fact, there was enough space for at least two people. Not only would I have a seat but I might also have some wiggle room!

“Good evening ma’am, could I please squeeze in here,” I said in my sweetest voice to the woman at the end of the pew.

“I am sorry,” she said in an equally sweet voice. “These spots are saved.”

My heart sunk and I began the humiliating walk of turning around and strolling back up the aisle. I could feel the eyes of the hundreds of people who watched me walk all the way down the aisle (St. Andrew is a large church) only to see me reverse course and walk the other way. Thankfully, after I passed about ten rows, a couple of precious old ladies made room for me to sit at the very end of their pew.

As I got settled in, I watched people do the exact same thing I did. They walked all the way down to the pew only to be told that the seat was reserved. I witnessed this about three times. The final time the usher took a family of three down to the location, thinking just like all of us that the space was open. With the usher guiding the wide-eyed and helpless trio to the seemingly open spot, the woman who was reserving the pew surrendered. She stood up and made the long walk to the back of the church where I assume she waited for her guests while joining the legions of people enjoying the standing room only accomodations.

This story isn’t a knock on St. Andrew. Rather, it is a tribute. I am proud to say that I am part of a parish that hosts full houses frequently and employs the hardest working user team in the diocese. I am also not putting down the lady who was saving seats. You know why? Because we have all been there…

I will never forget my sister’s high school graduation. It took place in an arena where it was a first-come, first-served seating situation. I went with my dad and uncle right when the doors opened to save seats. We immediately claimed a row right in the center of the venue. My dad took out a long piece of thick paper ribbon that stretched across the entire row except for one seat at one end and two seats at the other. Across the ribbon he wrote RESER-ved.

My dad and uncle sat on the end with two seats and I sat on the end with one seat. I was on the end that was closer to the stage and thus had an aisle that was exposed to many more people using the stairs. While my two family members on the other side had a great time chatting it up for two hours, I was basically abused by angry attendees who thought it was the cheapest move in the book to block off a whole row. I mean, could I really blame them?

Saving seats sucks so much. You feel multiple negative emotions ranging from fear to embarrassment to anger. People usually save seats to help friends and loved ones so in theory it is a noble act. However, good intentions many times morph into a tough afternoon for the person doing the deed and frustration for the many folks who see open seats in a crowded place but are denied. In the end, is it worth it?

Unless you have pregnant, elderly, or handicapped individuals in your party, resist the urge to save seats. If we have the need for premium seating, I think we should make the effort to round everyone up and go to the venue together. It would make a smoother experience for all. Don’t Blink.

My Super Bowl 50 Commentary

Last night a football game was played. Did you watch?

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Super Bowl 50 last evening. Without an emotional investment in the game, I watched it as an impartial fan just wanting to see two teams play hard in front of the best backdrop in sports. As I snacked on junk food and went to town on the delicious sausage queso dip that Sidney makes, I sat in front of the television for four hours watching the highest rated block of TV of the year. It was awesome.

As I did last year with my Super Bowl XLIX commentary, I want to do the same thing with this year’s game. So down…set…HIKE! Here we go…

The Game: I don’t know how people get away with saying last night’s defensive battle between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers was boring. I personally enjoyed every minute of it. It was a hard-hitting, close, strategic contest. Sure it wasn’t an evening where the scoreboard was lit up but come the fourth quarter the result was still in doubt. Besides a couple moments from Cam Newton, all individuals from both teams played hard and I was on the edge of my seat. It wasn’t a snoozer by any means.

I thought the officiating for the most part was solid. Carolina got a tough break early when an incompletion that looked like a catch was upheld after it went to replay. Not long after that, Denver got screwed on a taunting call. After those two questionable calls wiped each other out it was a very well-handled game. Super Bowls are always better when the referees don’t help decide the outcome.

I give a pass to the announcing crew. To be completely honest, I never really noticed Jim Nantz or Phil Simms that much during the broadcast. In my mind, that is a good sign and a tribute to the announcers. At the start of the game, Mike Carey (officiating expert) had another embarrassing reversal on what he predicted, capping an awful season for him on CBS, but was then never used again. I thought Tracy Wolfson did a good job on the sidelines and interviewed Peyton Manning well at the conclusion of the game.

When it comes down to it, we did watch both Peyton Manning and Cam Newton play terrible games. But I think the defensive gem was enough to bypass the sloppy performances of the quarterbacks. I was pulling for the Panthers to win. It would have been great for our area and great for the social media channels here at Coastal (Josh Norman and Mike Tolbert are both CCU alums). However, watching Peyton Manning go out with the ring isn’t that bad. During his career he always competed hard while conducting himself with class and humility. I like seeing those types of athletes leave the game on top.

Halftime Show: Before I tell you what I thought of the halftime show, I have to tell you that I am not particularly a fan of Coldplay, Beyonce, or Bruno Mars. In fact, when the headliner was first announced I let out a depressed sigh.

But with all that said, I ended up enjoying halftime. I thought it was an entertaining show. I don’t know if I really got too excited over the individual performances of the artists but I thought it was really cool when they all came together and performed the same song. I didn’t really dig the rainbow theme or the people running out with Coldplay’s lead singer to begin the set but I did sense energy when the three superstars shared the stage together. I was also a sucker for the dance off.

I did appreciate the flashbacks to past Super Bowl halftime performances but as I tweeted immediately when they started showing them, it just made a shortcoming of this year’s show too obvious: it took place in daylight.

Of course when you rotate the Super Bowl and tinker with kickoff times, you are going to have games in west coast cities where halftime falls before dark. I understand there is nothing you can do about that. But an insane pyrotechnic show and a brilliantly lit stage will always add something extra to a halftime show.

The Commercials: I wasn’t disappointed with the commercials. Although folks immediately fell into the trap I warn about every year and blasted this year’s ads, I thought most were well done.

I never base my rating of Super Bowl commercials on how “funny” they are. Instead, I always look at how impactful they were. The slate of ads this year did manage to make me think past the game. I thought the Mini Cooper spot that took on stereotypes was superb. I thought the technology and storyline that made up the Coca-Cola Mini commercial with Ant Man and the Hulk was really cool. Going back to another car ad, I thought the Prius police chase was engaging and fun. My favorite Super Bowl commercial of 2016 though was the Taco Bell Quesalupa “bigger than…” spot. It was a fun look at modern day pop culture and it had a lot of us salivating in front of our televisions. Over the years I have consistently said that I look up to the Taco Bell marketing team with complete respect and admiration.

I don’t do slap stick ads (sorry Doritos and singing lambs) and I wasn’t impressed with the Super Bowl babies campaign. But even with those inserted in this year’s lineup, I think the Super Bowl commercial crop was pretty good for the most part.


For me, when it comes to the theme of last night I have one word: surprise.

I never thought the Broncos would put up such a good fight, let alone defeat the Carolina Panthers to take Super Bowl 50. But a little surprise every now and then isn’t a bad thing, especially when you don’t have a horse (or Bronco) in the race. Congrats Denver and Peyton, live it up. Don’t Blink.

An Awkward Episode at Great Clips

Yesterday morning I went to Great Clips to get a haircut. I checked in and had a seat. After about five minutes of waiting I watched a boy leap off the stylist’s chair while his dad paid for the service. They then left the shop. About two minutes later an agitated larger woman swung open the doors and approached the front counter…

“I wanted my son to get a haircut, not a BUZZ CUT,” the woman angrily exclaimed.

The manager on duty listened to the woman’s complaints: Her son’s hair was cut short, it didn’t look like it did last time it was cut, it didn’t resemble the picture of the male model that was hanging up in the salon behind where I was seated, etc. The woman made a big show as she moaned and paced back and forth in the waiting area while pleading her case.

One of the stylists came to the aid of the manager and started to listen to the woman’s gripes. This employee calmly told the disgruntled mother that they gave the exact same cut to the boy that was described in the computer from his previous visit. In fact, the explanation given by the boy on what he wanted matched the records in the computer exactly.

Of course this didn’t appease the woman who again complained that the haircut looked nothing like what he got last time. Then, again, she flung a frustrated arm at the photo above my head and whined, “I wanted it to look like that.”

The stylist told the lady that the clipper setting that the boy requested and that was recorded in the computer didn’t come close to matching the hair of the dude in the framed photo. The reasoning didn’t satisfy the mom. She continued to argue with the stylist and question the competence of the employees. Mind you, this Great Clips that I go to is always packed. As the noon hour was approaching there were about 10 stylists working and they all had customers in their chairs (except for the one dealing with the woman). The waiting room was full. Everyone was watching this unfortunate tantrum. I debated videoing it with my iPhone but decided I would just write about it instead.

“But I wanted his hair to look like that photo,” the woman groaned for what seemed like the 20th time.

The lady finally stormed out. The stylist who had received the brunt of the mother’s wrath now had to get back to cutting hair. She called my name to come back.

Realizing that she probably still needed a couple minutes to gather herself, I just quietly told her that I wouldn’t be as hard on her as the woman was. She sat me down and put my haircut cape on. She then had to answer to another employee about the exchange that just took place. Then, after taking a deep breath, she asked me, “Do you know how you want your hair to be cut?”

“Exactly like that picture,” I teased.

She busted out laughing.

Driving to church with my new haircut!

Driving to church with my new haircut!


I have written before about how Great Clips is the only place I go to get a haircut. However, I make it my hair destination because of convenience. I don’t go there thinking I am going to get a movie star makeover. Sure, simple standards should be held by customers when they go to a place like Great Clips. However, thinking that their son’s hair will turn out exactly like that of a photo of a model hung on the wall is not realistic. To throw a tantrum about it is ridiculous.

Would you believe that the woman came back in again? This time she brought her son back with her. The poor stylists tried to do everything they could to make the mom happy. They sat the boy back down in a stylist’s seat (right next to me! Luckily my stylist didn’t have to do damage control again) and fiddled with his hair more. As the mom complained about how unprofessional this particular Great Clips was I shot glances at my stylist through the mirror expressing how sorry I was.

The only other person I had more sympathy for was that poor boy. I can’t imagine how embarrassed he was to watch his mom act like that and to be brought back inside the shop for a second time.

I don’t think it is appropriate to get too worked up about a haircut at Great Clips. We need to have realistic expectations and keep in mind that we get what we pay for. Don’t Blink.

My $6 Thursday Rundown

Good evening to you all. Hope your month has started off on the right foot. Here we go with the latest Thursday Rundown…

Big Subway Announcement: Today the world’s biggest sandwich chain made the major announcement that its classic foot long subs will no longer sell for $5. Instead, a classic 12 inch sub will now cost you $6. Um, HELLO?! Hasn’t it been this way for a long time now? It seems like I haven’t enjoyed a $5 foot long for at least a year now. Imagine that…I have proof that it has been OVER a year. Even though I have dealt with $6 sandwiches at Subway for a while now, the announcement brings back bitter memories to when I first discovered the price hike.

I didn't know this was a new thing.

I didn’t know this was a new thing.

Like Any Normal Day: Last night I finished reading a rather depressing biographical book. Author Mark Kram Jr. focuses on Buddy Miles, a high school student with the world in the palm of his hand. However, a devastating football injury paralyzes him, rendering him a quadriplegic. “Like Any Normal Day: A Story of Devotion” takes the reader through the painful journey that both Buddy and his family were forced to endure for a couple of rough decades. In the end, Buddy takes extreme measures. The book will make you shed tears, and, in my case, leave you more sad than inspired.

"Like Any Normal Day" is written by Mark Kram Jr.

“Like Any Normal Day” is written by Mark Kram Jr.

My Genius Idea One Year Later: Exactly 365 days ago I pitched my idea for an ice cream buffet concept. Unfortunately I have not had anyone call me yet to invest in my brilliant model. If you want to talk business, let me know.

What You Get for Writing About Politics: My blog post last night about the possible fall of Donald Trump received a strong response from folks who both agreed and (strongly) disagreed with me. My phone went off the whole night as random people tweeted at me and commented on the blog post itself. Several Trump supporters insulted me like Trump insults everyone else but it is all fine by me….whenever I can triple my average blog traffic it is a good night.

JUST A FEW of the tweets I received from random people after I published the post. I received the positive (left) and the negative (right).

JUST A FEW of the tweets I received from random people after I published the post. I received the positive (left) and the negative (right).

Wedding Update #18: It is at that point where Sidney’s birthday is like my birthday! This past weekend we celebrated Sid’s special day with her extended family. When it came time to open up gifts, she received several items off of our registry such as dinner plates, mugs, casserole containers, and a skillet. Of course these items will be shared by both of us as we start our life together.

Sidney enjoyed ripping open her gifts last Sunday. Here she is holding our new casserole containers.

Sidney enjoyed ripping open her gifts last Sunday. Here she is holding our new casserole containers.


Thank you once again for your readership. Have a joyous weekend and I will touch base on Sunday. Don’t Blink.