Making America safer today!

January 22, 2016 § 128 Comments

There is a big Marine Corps base south of here called Camp Pendleton, and a Marine Corps Air Station called Miramar. Now don’t get me wrong, I’n no fan of the military. Yes, I know my father was a vet, and freedom isn’t free, and blah blah blah, but in a country where we spend zillions on defense and haven’t won a war since 1945 despite failed efforts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Somalia, and a bunch of other places, it seems like our military is less a fighting force than it is a budget appropriations boondoggle.

$1 trillion for a fighter jet that doesn’t really work, etc., and that $1 trillion as in “enough zeroes to give a college degree to every American who wants one.”

Of course that’s to be expected because the military dredges from the bottom of the barrel when it recruits, generally going after the poorest, worst educated, most future-less kids who can be suckered into a job that offers their parents a few grand in death benefits for the chance to have the child’s face melted off by an IED on the streets of Baghdad.

But don’t worry, son, we’ll put an “I support the troops” bumper sticker on the back of the SUV and make sure that you get preferential seating on Southwest after finding bin stowage for your prosthetic everything.

Our military sucks, not because of anything I say, but because the average person wouldn’t join if you paid them, which is exactly what the military does. We have an army of mercenaries, and rightly so. Everyone knows that unless you are a career officer retiring with a rank of major or higher, the military is a horrible substitute for a college degree, and everyone knows that despite all the lip service to our “heroes,” they’re treated like dogshit once they return from combat and that their chances of living homeless, addicted, horrible lives is sky high. To top it off, the officers for whom a military career is actually a decent one all have college if not advanced college degrees.

If the best preparation for a career and a life you could give your child was a non-com job in the military, society generally recognizes you as having failed miserably. And please don’t email me about how your child got her life straightened out in the Marines, how yours is a multi-generational military family, or how it has worked out for your kid. In general, it’s a dead end with potholes and falling down, roofless structures with their windows all shot out.

The “benefits” of serving in the military are so obviously non-existent that recruiters don’t even bother to set foot in high schools, especially wealthy ones, who prepare most of their students for college. That’s because being told what to do and then shot at looks like a raw deal compared to smoking dope for five years, sleeping around, learning stuff that you like, and getting a job with Google. The people who run the military will admit all this in private, and more: Recruits are terrible and it’s virtually impossible to fill quotas with qualified volunteers.

Top it off with the fact that we don’t have any more good wars to fight, that there isn’t a draft, and that most military jobs don’t prepare you for work outside the military, and at the end of the day you can’t escape the fact that today’s service is a badge of failure. Doubt it? Go take a poll of the homeless people in LA’s skid row. Ex-military are everywhere. Ex Wall Street traders are virtually non-existent. Ask managers at good firms what they want in a new hire and they will say, “A degree from a good college, an internship, and good communications skills.” Few will say, “A kid from a shitty high school with no college who can’t spell or read and who has served six tours in Iraq.”

Yes, I know your parents and grandparents saved democracy, but that was then. Now the only thing you get from being in the army is preferential seating on an airplane, which most people can get by paying $40 and don’t have to donate their youth to some rebel uprising in a Middle Eastern war zone, fighting for the rights of Exxon and the rights of a Saudi prince to execute bloggers and repress women.

Still, there are more practical reasons to be down our military, and nowhere do our armed forces show their undemocratic stripes more shamelessly than on Camp Pendleton. This federal facility blocks access to all cyclists traveling between San Diego County and Orange County. In the past, all you had to do was show a driver license, smile, and they’d wave you through.

But no more. A few days ago the USMC brought the hammer down on a group of mountain bikers who had unknowingly crossed onto the air station. They even confiscated their bikes, proving that even though the USMC gets its ass kicked up one side and down the other by a bunch of mule-riding, heroin-selling, illiterate and ragtag Taliban, it can sure as hell run roughshod over a few skinny bicyclist computer programmers. Tough guys, one and all.

However, or perhaps because the fighting forces of the USA have returned home soundly beaten from the last few engagements overseas, the good commanders of Camp Pendleton have now put a new set of rules set to take place on 3/1/16 that require anyone who wants to cross the base–i.e. ride a bike–to register on a website ANNUALLY, be approved, and carry an I.D. All this so that we can use land that is already ours. Imagine the havoc that’s going to wreak with people from out of state, or out of area. Foreigners won’t be allowed to register.

What’s worse are the banana-suckers on the cyclist advocacy side who have posted this information in an attempt to “work with” the base commander. Why aren’t we calling this buffoon out and asking him why the hell he’s commanding a military base if he can’t deal with a few cyclists? I know his armed forces suck, but it’s news even to me that a handful of shaved leg bike pedalers armed with water bottles pose a security threat to the USMC, an arm of the military that once prided itself as being pretty much fearless and proved it at Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Pelelieu, and Iwo Jima.

How times have changed.

END

Update: USMC Air Station Miramar, formerly known as Top Gun, confiscated the bikes on trails that were not marked, but that were on federal property adjacent to the popular Mission Trails community park system. Riders confirm that the signage is either very confusing or, depending on where you enter the trails, nonexistent. This are is now patrolled by MP’s in flight suits because, bicycles. USMC will return the bikes after the fine has been paid by the trespasser. That’s the new America: Militarized and policed to the teeth. Criticize it and you’re a treasonous liberal lefty America-hating fact-less idiot: http://www.cbs8.com/story/31018621/marines-confiscating-bikes-of-trespassers-on-base.

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Money talks

January 21, 2016 § 23 Comments

Last year I put up some cash primes in a couple of local races. It wasn’t a huge amount, but $4,000 in cash primes is a lot more than what people here usually race for. The result was that entries doubled compared to the year before and the races that had the cash primes were fast, furious, and strung out from corner-to-corner, start to finish.

But what was interesting is that the big turnout in the men’s fields wasn’t matched by the women, whose fields were small. Where the guys were champing at the bit to haul in some extra dough at season’s end to pay for a slightly nicer cardboard box, the women weren’t, even though the primes were identical for men and women, something that’s a unicorn in bike racing.

Prior to plunking down the cash I had several people tell me that it was wasted money. “The women won’t show up to race because they don’t care about the money.” I was advised to give the women a token amount and put the rest of the cash back into the men’s fields, which would result in more attendance and harder racing.

I refused out of principle. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

In the second race there were 20 women who started in the P/1/2/3 field as compared to four the previous week. Given that it was the end of the season, that was pretty solid turnout–and the women raced hard for the primes, and most of them showed up specifically because there were $100 bills on offer, ten of them in a 40-minute race.

This year I’ve started out with another $2,500 in cash primes for this weekend’s CBR in Compton, and again I’ve matched the men’s P/1/2 field and the women’s P/1/2/3 field with identical prime amounts. So far six women have pre-registered; I’m betting that at least thirty will show up to race. That’s a solid women’s field in SoCal for a local crit.

The people who say that women aren’t motivated by money are wrong. The reason that women turnout is depressed isn’t because women don’t like to make money racing, it’s because the sport has refused for years to give women equal earnings. Year in and year out women are told that because they don’t race in sufficient numbers they don’t deserve equal prize lists.

This is exactly what opponents of Title IX said back when the federal government required equal funding for college athletic programs. Once the money kicked in and women’s programs had funds to travel, hire coaches, and pay for equipment, participation soared. Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than a few hundred bucks at a local crit to energize thousands of women to take up bike racing, but it’s worth trying to equalize payouts and primes for a lot of reasons.

First, it’s fair. The women who show up, even though they are smaller in number, should be treated equally.

Second, it sends the message that women’s racing isn’t an afterthought, it’s a key part of the day’s events.

Third, over time it will increase women’s participation.

END

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Gitcher Belgian on

January 20, 2016 § 11 Comments

BWR_Social_FBLINK

It’s that time of year. Oh, wait, no it isn’t.

That time of year is Spring, April  24, 2016 at 8:00 AM sharp.

What now is, is the time of year when you sign up for the Belgian Waffle Ride far enough in advance so that you think you’ll be ready for it. The good news is that you will be! The bad news is that you won’t.

This year’s edition, the fifth, features another leisurely spin through the gentle rolling hills and well-maintained road surfaces of North San Diego County. As in past years, the BWR will be pain-free, fun, easy to complete, and filled with happy conversation as you pedal long miles side-by-side with friends, catching up on family news and philosophizing about life, dark matter, and what’s really going on with Chinese stocks.

Of course there may be one or two riders with a different agenda, and who, rather than seeing the BWR as a casual LSD pedal, see instead a painful mix of dirt, tarmac, water, gravel, and rocky sections buffered on all sides by difficulty, epic challenges, and extremely tough riding conditions.

But what do they know?

Well, they may know this …

Although each BWR has been more monumental than the one before, the 2016 edition is the toughest yet. At 144 miles, it is the longest, has the most dirt sectors, and rarely traverses an intersections. The complexity of the course means that there’s something there for everyone, except those who really want to stop. For them, there will be six major and six minor aid stations, some of which will offer tequila or Belgian ale while still offering water, Coke, and event-sponsored beverages.

Some of the sections are so hard you’ll have to walk unless your name is Phil Tinstman or Neil Shirley. Some of the heroic dirt sections from past years such as Black Canyon, Canyon de Oro, and Lemontwistenberg will rear their ugly heads, but the new challenges of Lusardi and San Elijo also await. The rock garden of Lake Hodges has to be traversed in both directions this year, same as the Mule Trail. Perhaps the best feature is the Highland Valley beatdown, five miles of unvarnished climbing hell out to Ramona where you can contemplate forging ahead or calling it a day.

The only way you’ll find out, of course, is to do the dance and sign up for yet another year of full-gas pedalmashing. Better yet, if it’s your first time you can toe the line and discover what’s so fun about slamming a great waffle-egg-bacon-coffee breakfast, riding hard, competing against the best, capping off the ride with more good food and even better beer, then collapsing in a heap and hoping like hell you thought far enough in advance to arrange for a ride back home.

Registration is here: https://bitly.com/bwrreg2016.

Over the next few weeks I’ll put together a series of training plans tailored to the different needs of the various BWR participants. For now the simplest plan is also the hardest: Ride yer fuggin’ bike.

END

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Are you addicted to cycling?

January 19, 2016 § 41 Comments

As someone with a bona fide addiction, I considered this question from a fellow rider as we two-by-two’ed our way up the Switchbacks today.

Here are my thoughts: First, with regard to Lemmy from Motorhead, David Bowie, and now Glenn Frey, please stop acting like the world just came to an end. These were wizened, drug-addled, head-banging, groupie-groping, career rock musicians, for dog’s sake. Did you think they were going to live to be a hundred? Most of them, especially David Crosby, are lucky they ever saw thirty. Fact is all of their work has been preserved in something called “recordings” and no matter how dead they are, their complex 3-chord arrangements and inarticulate, off-key, guttural grunts will live forever.

And here’s my big prediction: As time passes, they all will die except for Keith Richards, who has been dead since 1969. If you want to get upset about someone dying, why not focus on the children being starved in Syria?

Where were we? Oh right, rock ‘n roll, Keith Richards, addiction.

So my buddy suggested that cycling was an addiction, and I rebelled a bit at that. For me, an addiction is something that you habitually do to deal with a problem, and that effectively treats the problem, but after treating the problem it leaves you with other, worse ones.

With regard to drunkenness, its purpose is quite simple: Silence unpleasant thoughts and replace them with pleasant ones, or better yet, with slurred goop. You see, my head is full of Rated B thoughts (“B” is for “Bad”) and I would rather they were not there. Drinking makes those thoughts go completely away, replacing them with happy thoughts or goop, and it does so immediately. No foreplay, no asking permission, no beating around the bush. Drink one, buzz. Drink two, bigger buzz. Drink three, everything unpleasant is in the rearview mirror and disappearing quickly from sight.

Drunkenness is an addiction (for me) because after accomplishing its objective–obliterating the unpleasant–it runs out of steam and after each treatment session replaces the odious thoughts with even more odious ones. This requires more drinking, until eventually something breaks or someone breaks down.

I suppose cycling could fit this pattern of addiction for some people, but for me (and I think addiction is personal rather than, say, malaria, which infects all its victims under identical conditions) it is not.

To apply the same test, cycling is an activity that silences unpleasant thoughts and replaces them with happy ones, so it starts off looking like an addiction. For me, the happy thoughts are the happiness of beating the living snot out of a real or imagined adversary and watching them struggle, shudder, crack, and crater into a puddle of demolished self-esteem. There is an amazing happiness that comes from riding people off your wheel or jumping around them when they are at the end of their rope, driving a stake through the heart of their hopes and aspirations. It is a very warm, very fuzzy feeling, especially when you know the person well or they are a close friend, to see them wriggle on the end of a meathook and slowly, painfully expire as they gaspingly breathe and groan.

Of course more often than not it is the other person driving the stake through me and I’m the one getting shelled, the one spiraling backwards, legs broken like a wayward SpaceX rocket flopping awkwardly off its landing barge and into the dark, cold, bottomless sea. But even being on the receiving end of the club serves the purpose of taking away bad thoughts and replacing them with good ones: It is pleasant to give it everything you have, to empty your mental and physical tanks, to greedily grasp for the unattainable, to feel the iron bootheel on your skull after pushing yourself to collapse. It’s a glow that some call endorphins, others call “taking the bit between your teeth,” and others refer to simply as “You’re fucked up, dude.”

And yet …

It is this process that differentiates cycling from alcoholism, because after the ride, or rather the mauling, I’m a better person. I’m easier to deal with at home and at work. I’m more sympathetic. I think more clearly, especially after the 2-hour post-ride REM “nap” and 4,000-calorie lunch. And along the way there is a reduction in quantity or intensity or both of unhappy thoughts. When things are really clicking, solutions appear that were invisible before. On top of all this, there’s a residue of physical health, as long as I don’t fall off my bicycle or hop onto the hood of an oncoming truck.

In contrast, any self-respecting addiction leaves an “after the party” set of problems that revolves around the twin challenges of getting out of the gutter and wiping the puke out of your hair. Which isn’t to say that cycling can’t be an addiction for some people, as we all know the person who rode his way out of a job, out of a family, and into state prison as a result of too much cycling. Oh, wait–no, we don’t.

In other words, carry on cycling. While you can.

END

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Make enemies quick!

January 18, 2016 § 10 Comments

The SCNCA board of trustees election is underway, and you can’t vote. Isn’t democracy great?

What you can do, however, is lobby. The way you lobby is this:

  1. Find out who on your USAC-registered club is the SCNCA “team representative.”
  2. Pester that fucker to vote.
  3. Pester that fucker to vote for the people you want to see on the board.

At some time in the future the SCNCA may allow direct elections, where the actual racers get a direct voice in the organization they fund. This will be about the time that you can buy unicorn farts out of vending machines. Until then, let’s lobby.

This election is an important one because the entire 9-person board is up for election. The candidates have all self-nominated and posted their statements here. Your team rep must vote by January 27, so please begin pestering him or her now. Below are my recommendations.

  1. Chris Black. He has raced, coached, promoted, and officiated. He’s a thorn in the ass of USAC but has the tools and the vision to improve SCNCA. Plus, ex-cop.
  2. David Huntsman. He has raced, is an expert in non-profit governance, is a lawyer, believes in transparency, and has played a huge role in getting the current board to resign, hire a lawyer, and hold new elections. He’s also a board member of OC Bike Coalition and has a kid who races.
  3. Omar Lozano. Omar has promoted some great races, has actual skin in the game, and is a crucial bridge between the mostly white SCNCA/USAC status quo and the massive potential pool of US/Mexico Hispanic bike racers. His Adrenaline GP events are super. Without the needs of promoters taken into account, there are no races.
  4. Armin Rahm. SCNCA and USAC critic. German bad-ass. Intelligent and has been around the SoCal racing scene forever. Incredibly accomplished athlete. Strong voice for riders and an articulate voice for what it is that riders want and need.
  5. Matt Wikstrom. Great bike racer. Smart dude. Makes his living in the arena of professional sports management and athlete agency. In other words, a highly accomplished amateur bike racer who works with the finances and mechanics of professional sports for a living. Could we use that at SCNCA? Uh, yes.
  6. Justin Williams. Young. Great bike racer. Respected voice for athletes and a fantastic bridge for the woefully underserved African-American community, which has huge numbers of recreational cyclists in LA who need to view bike racing as something that is available, welcoming, and a great opportunity for them.
  7. Dorothy Wong. Racer and promoter. She’s the single force behind the entire ‘cross calendar in SoCal. Incredibly accomplished, puts on an entire season’s worth of races, friendly, deadline-oriented, pro in every respect.
  8. Sean Wilson. Life-long racer, huge promoter of junior racers and junior racing. Junior team director and advocate who has pulled together numerous statewide events to try and build consensus for solutions that will increase junior racing and therefore secure the future of the sport.
  9. Jan Luke. Jan is committed to implementing the reforms that were begun when SCNCA hired an attorney, held an election to successfully revise its bylaws, and put the current election process in place. She’s running for a 1-year term and would be a good choice to see the reforms through.

END

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My goals for CTS in 2016

January 16, 2016 § 24 Comments

Carmichael Training Systems, founded by exercise guru and former pro cyclist Chris Carmichael is looked up to worldwide for its ability to help people get the most out of their bodies. CTS recently published a fantastic list of six goals NOT to make this year, and since CTS has done the community a great favor by listing these six important “Thous shalt nots,” I thought I’d return it by giving them some goals for 2016. Chris & Co., you can PayPal me any amount you think appropriate.

  1. Expunge all Internet traces of Carmichael’s relationship with Lance Armstrong. Chris advertised for years as Armstrong’s coach and rode the syringe’s coattails all the way to success even though he was purportedly aware of Lance’s doping for decades. Fortunately, once Lance was revealed to be a cheater, a liar, and a fraudster, CTS has put more distance between Chris and his former protege than there are miles between here and the Crab Nebulae. However, inconvenient Internet links still exist that remind potential clients of Chris & Lance. For 2016, let’s get all those links deleted!
  2. Not dope any juniors against their will. Chris was sued by former juniors on the national team for allegedly force-injecting them with PED’s, leading to horrific injuries and side effects. Coach Carmichael is believed to have settled the allegations under a confidential agreement, so without admitting wrongdoing he was presumably able to pay off his victims without having this nasty chapter of cycling history attached to his Teflon brand. For 2016, let’s not dope juniors against their will!
  3. Sell another 50 containers of snake oil. CTS has mastered the art of selling people what they could get for free, i.e. bicycling fitness and health advice which anyone with a brain knows is this: 1) Ride more. 2) Do what you enjoy. 3) Decline the fourth trip down Ming Yang’s $4.99 All U Can Inhale Chinese Buffet.
  4. Double training camp reservations. The high point of any CTS sucker’s, er, member’s membership, is attending a training camp where you can dream of briefly rubbing shoulders with Chris or receive an extended jock-sniffing session with his old riding shorts. These camps are led by accomplished amateur and pro bike racers who think you are a fat, worthless pile of cattle crap even as they smile, wait for you on the clumb, eagerly paw at you for tips, and seethe at making $9.99 an hour while CTS is raking in all the cash.
  5. Expand the number of profamateurs who get full evaluations. Because you are a profamateur bike racer who may one day enter a Cat 5 race or get your Wanky Cat 2 upgrade after 25 years, it’s important to know your body composition. Whereas the typical Internet coach will just tell you, “Your body is composed mostly of water,” or simply “oxygen,” at CTS they will make you blow into a funny tube and pedal a bike that is stuck to the floor while trying to self-induce heart failure. They will take pictures you can post to show how much you suffered.
  6. Get more people to wade deeper into their cycling delusion. At CTS, after determining your body’s oxygen content (Hint: lots!), you can sign up for a life-changing experience that the rest of the world will regard as madness, i.e. sign up for a “tour” of sections of P-R, Flanders, etc. These will closely replicate the races themselves except that they will come with 4-star lodging, fine food, coach coddling, and lots of supportive emails to help you reach your personal best, even if that means riding 10k in rain along a cow path lined with pig poop.

But perhaps our biggest resolution for CTS is that it continues to succeed with its sports performance by ensuring that “CTS Athletes experience a 10% increase in sustainable power in the first 6 months of coaching.” If a 10% increase in power doesn’t translate into a happier, healthier life then nothing will!

END

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Corrupting the youth

January 15, 2016 § 41 Comments

I went to a beer-and-biker event last night at Strand Brewing Co., where I was joined by some of my friends from Team Lizard Collectors. They drank beer while I ate tacos and gazed longingly at their frothy hops.

But before they arrived I got there early. I get places early usually. You can sometimes get in trouble arriving early, but pretty much always get in trouble coming late.

At one of the tables was my buddy Joel Elliott. That’s not his real name, so don’t Google “Joel Elliott, Strand Brewing Co.” because it’s just a pseudonym.

He was sitting at the table with his wife, his wife’s friend, and five little kids. The kids were all well behaved, quietly playing UNO, chewing with their mouths closed, and waiting until being spoken to before speaking.

I sat down and Joel introduced me to the kids as “Mr. Davidson.” You know how much kids like being introduced to “Mr.” anything? Kind of like they enjoy the phrases “time for bed” and “I’m telling your father when he gets home.”

But these kids were all well bred and made the briefest of eye contact before resuming their kid lives. I waited a couple of seconds. “All right, kids, listen up!” I said in my most authoritative voice. They all looked up.

“Now you don’t know me, but I’m a liar. The biggest liar you ever met. I’m 52 years old and I’ve been lying since the day I was born. I also have bad manners, chew with my mouth open, and like to spit.”

The littlest punkin gazed up. “How big a liar are you?” she asked.

“I’m a bigger liar than all the other liars in the world combined. I once told my principal, Mr. Smudgy Pigeonpants, that if he spanked me again my leg would fall off.”

“Smudgy Pigeonpants?” they cackled.

“Yes, and his assistant, Poopy Stinkyfeet, I lied to her too.”

“Poopy Stinkyfeet?” said one of the boys. “That’s not a real name.”

“Sure it is,” I said. “Are you calling me a liar?”

“YES!!” they all chimed in unison.

“If you’d called me a liar yesterday that would have been true, but after this morning I decided to quit lying and only tell the truth. I haven’t told a single lie today and don’t intend to.”

“But you just lied about that Stinkypants and Pigeonfeet stuff!” said one of the girls.

“Those lies didn’t count,” I said. “They were assistant lies.”

“What’s an assistant lie?” asked a boy.

“It’s a lie you tell to help you get to the truth. Now, then, go ahead and ask me anything and I swear on a stack of dead cricket abdomens that I’ll tell the truth.”

“What’s an abdomen?” asked the littlest girl.

“It’s like a stomach except on a cockroach,” said one of the boys.

“How old are you?” asked the littlest girl.

“437,” I piously intoned.

“LIAR!!” they all yelled, bits of food falling onto the floor and a general mess of the card game being made. One of the boys spilled some cold water on my feet.

“Okay,” I said, “I was lying about that but I won’t lie anymore, I promise. I learned to stop lying in prison.”

“You’ve been to prison?” the biggest boy asked.

“Oh, sure. Everyone in my family has.”

“Are you lying again?” asked the other boy, who had become something of a skeptic in a rather short period of time.

“No, sir.”

“What were you in prison for?”

“Killing people,” I said. “Forty of them. All at once. With a spitball cannon to the big toe.”

“LIAR!” they all roared.

“Nope,” I said. “I’ve got the prison tattoo on my left arm to prove it. It says ‘Corcoran State Prison for Spitball Murder, #20182718101838540582Azidy283521.'”

“On your arm?” asked the skeptic.

“Sure.”

“Show it to us.”

I was wearing a hoodie, a long sleeve sweater, and a long sleeve t-shirt. “Roll up my sleeve and see for yourself.”

They all pounced on my arm, knocking a taco off the table, smearing some salsa with the UNO cards, and making a general mess. They got the 12 sleeves of Christmas rolled halfway up. “There’s no tattoo!” shrieked the oldest girl, triumphantly.

“Sure there is,” I said. “It’s on the other arm.”

“LIAR!” they roared and attacked my other sleeve.

“There’s no tattoo here, either!” proclaimed the skeptic.

“You didn’t roll it up far enough,” I said.

They all turned to with great energy and violence, but there was only so far they could roll up the bundle of sleeves. Finally the littlest girl jammed her hand up the inside of my bicep. “I can’t feel any tattoo!”

“Oh, no!” I said. “Now you’ve got stinky hand!”

She sniffed her fingers. “Yuck!”

“That will never wash off,” I said, sadly.

“LIAR!” they all said.

“What’s your name?” I asked the biggest girl.

“Cassidy,” she said.

“That’s an incredible coincidence!” I shouted excitedly.

“What’s a coincidence?” asked the littlest girl.

“It’s when a bunch of things happen wrong at the same time,” said the biggest boy.

“How come it’s a coincidence?” asked Cassidy.

“Because my daughter’s name is Cassidy, too!”

“LIAR!” they all shouted.

“No, really, this time I swear I’m telling the truth. Her name is Cassidy except we spell it with an ‘a’ instead of an ‘i’ but we pronounce it the same.”

“LIAR!”

“I swear on a stack of old cockroach droppings that I’m telling the truth, really.”

“LIAR!”

“No, really.”

“LIAR.”

“I extra promise!”

“LIAR!”

I looked at the littlest girl, who had wedged her way under my left arm and who was perched cozily against my hoodie while sitting on my leg. “You don’t think I’m lying, do you?”

She smiled sadly. “You’re a big liar but you’re a nice liar,” she said.

“If that’s your daughter’s name call her up and let us ask her what her name is!” said the skeptic.

“Call her up! Call her up! Call her up!” they all shouted.

“Well, okay,” I said. I slowly took out my phone and, hiding the screen, dialed my daughter on speakerphone.

“Hello?” she answered.

A cacophony of little kid voices screamed, “What’s your name?”

My 27-year-old daughter, who grew up with a rather odd father, wasn’t the least bit surprised to be receiving a phone call from what sounded like half a dozen screaming kids demanding to know her name.

“Cassady,” she said. “Who is this?”

Dead silence. The kids looked at me in awe.

“Thanks, honey,” I said into the speakerphone, and hung up.

END

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