January 17, 2020

Who did THIS?, game changer, Dallas here I come!

I did think of one more question, so if you read my last few posts and that format irritated you - have no fear . . . it is just one question.

About a week after Christmas, I gathered all family members and shouted:  'WHO DID THIS?'
Ho, ho ho-ld on - WHO. DID. THIS?

I found my 24 year old Santa in pieces on the end table in the living room.  
Of course no one knew.  Anything.  I have my suspicions, but honestly my little Santa was so fragile (he had been glued before - but only when he was in 2 pieces not 17) that someone COULD have knocked him over and not noticed that they had accidentally PULVERIZED him.  I am not buying that, but believe it or not this post is not about how clumsy and goofy my offspring can be.  

Part of the way there - just the arm
with the hearts on the bend-ie thing.
A few nights ago when my list of to-do's was so long that I feared I could not sleep, I stayed up too late and attempted to glue him.  He looks kinda sad now, but I am NOT tossing him in the garbage.

The background:  My good friends Dee Dee and Corey gave him to me in Dec '96 - the Christmas that Coach and I got engaged.  He proposed Dec. 16th, and Dee Dee presented me with the Santa shortly after.  She was like:  'Get it?  Santa with a heart, because you got your wish for Christmas?'  It was the perfect gift.
He always stood like that -
kinda leaning on one
 foot, so he is back together. 
I just ask you to steer
 your eyes away from the
missing armpit and the
 large hole behind the heart.
 He was darn right
 crumblie and I
 broke him further
the more I touched him.

Backing up the bus a bit further (who is eye-rolling here, cause they were thinking this would be short?):  When I attended a Catholic high school, we were required to get service hours.  I joined the local Leo Club, which was the like the junior Lions Club.  That year a man named Corey and his new bride ran the club.  They were young, hip, and fun, AND he was a professional football player.  It just so happened that year that he was not picked up by a team, or something.  Sue me - I have no idea what the proper jargon is here.  

We did service projects and met every few weeks in the library basement.  Sometimes I would say things like, "I can't come that day, because I have to babysit."  When Dee Dee found out she was pregnant, she walked up to me at one of the meetings and (tilted her head way back, cuz she is super petite and short and always looked really put-together) and looked way up at my towering, frumpy-self and said, "Hey, you're gonna be my babysitter."  

Game changer.  

Corey signed with the Bears soon after (don't ask me the years he played here or there - do I look like Reggie?).  I babysat for them through high school, college, and after college here and there.  I cannot EVEN tell you how great this couple was to me.  Oh, and I just so happened to be CRAZY about their insanely cute offspring.  

My favorite kid quote while sitting for them . . . at bedtime the brother would say his prayers:  'Sweet Jesus make me a gooood boy.'  The younger sister eventually learned the same prayer, but she said it like this:  'Sweet Jesus, make me a goooood boy and girl.'

While Dee Dee was everything I aspired to be, ie:  REALLY pretty, petite, short (physically not possible - I was 5'10"), spunky, with good hair, etc. I was schleppie.  Big time.  I know, I know, it was high school, who wasn't?  No, People.  Someday when we are all having a girls' weekend complete with late night snacks and glasses of wine and staying up all night chatting - I will break out the evidence pictures.  No one can compete with the cringe-worthy-ness that defined me.  Promise.

Anyway, Dee Dee and Corey got to know me.  They would come home from a night out and then hunker down to chat with me.  They listened to me and made me feel important.  If I was to compare Dee Dee to the girls that appeared similar to her in my high school . . . the ones who also made great wardrobe choices, knew how to apply makeup, and had great hair, then I would wonder why Dee Dee seemed to enjoy hanging with me.  She never made me feel schleppie.  It was a mystery to me, but one that bumped up my low self-esteem a few notches.  This couple laughed at my stories and were always interested in what I had to say or in what was going on in my life.  

When I got grounded for NOTHING - topic for another post, Dee Dee was like, "Your folks are CRAZY!  You are such a good kid.  They have no idea how good they have it.  (She was not wrong) Listen, invite a couple friends to my house any night you can't take the 6 week-life-sentence grounding (true - 6 weeks!) and I will get you Blockbuster movies and pizza and Core and I will go out, and your folks will think you are just babysitting.  This might work out really well for me, because HELLO automatic babysitter!"  Plus, they paid me really well.  Bonus.  

When no one asked me to the prom, Corey - who is hands down one of the greatest men I have ever known - said in his southern twang, "Girl, I tell you what I'm gonna do.  I'm gonna take you to that prom and I am gonna tell those young fellas what they are missing.  Just you watch."  

Well, that is not the route I went, but it totally thrilled me that Corey would be ready and willing.  I'm not gonna lie - I played that scenario over in my head a few times of the boneheads in my high school watching me walk in to prom with a football player.  This guy played on the Superbowl team and wore a Superbowl ring for real, and he swore up and down that people who overlooked me were going to figure it out one day.  

Those of you who are curious, Corey is not his real name.  Clue:  he plays the cowbell in the Superbowl Shuffle while wearing a fedora.  Insert, "Can I get a little more cowbell?"

Eventually Dee Dee and Corey would come home and Corey would say, "I cannot stay up this late," and he would go off to bed and Dee Dee and I would talk for hours.  I so needed a connection like this at this time in my life.  

When I went away to college, I wrote them letters- especially the year I studied in Ireland (OK, so I didn't exactly study - again, another post).  Corey once told me I was the most 'letter-writing-est person he ever met'.  I guess my letters were like my blog back then.  Dee Dee insisted that she take me out for my first margarita after I turned 21.  She left Corey with the kids and we went out as soon as I got back from Ireland.  From babysitter, to bar buddy!

The next day we re-did the entire
 for a big lunch because
 Corey's son was also in
 town and available this time. 
Any guess how
 hard it was back then to keep
my house orderly
and clean for one visit, let alone
back-to-back VISITS?
 Well worth it.  This is
Corey's son Bill,
 who is awesome -
hanging out with Curly.
Mini sporting a certain
someone's Superbowl ring!
Shortly after we got married, Dee Dee and Corey moved back to Dallas where they are from.  We have always kept in touch, but have not seen one another much.  

Once when Corey came in town for some speech about 9 years ago, he called me up.  "Hey E, I gotta get over to your place and kiss those sweet babies of yours while I am in town!"  I pulled my grade school kids out of school at noon and made a big meal.  Corey talked football with the big boys who were like 9 and 12 at the time while Reggie and Curly climbed all over him and Tank asked him about the Superbowl Shuffle and Mini asked him to come and see her dollhouse bunk bed.  So fun!

As you read this, Coach and I will be on a plane or will have already landed in DALLAS!  (which is fitting because I currently have a zit the size of Texas under my nose that refuses to die).  Coach is teaching there Saturday and half a day Sunday.  I am going to hang out with my friends while he teaches and the four of us will get to spend time together as well.  I am very busy getting everything ready to a) travel, and b) leave kids behind at friends' houses, but when I sat down to write this

I realized how excited I am!!!!  


Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

So I had to google him! I love that he is the cowbell guy! I was IN LOVE with Jim McMahon the year the Bears won the Super Bowl. I even had a poster of him in my bedroom.(He was modeling a pair of Revo sunglasses.) It was only recently in talking with my husband that I realized the Bears beat my beloved New England Patriots in the Super Bowl that year! Dan was even telling me that the Patriots came up with a cheesy song of their own but it didn't get the national coverage like the Supper Bowl Shuffle. If memory serves, the entire country was pulling for the Bears that year - I mean they must have been if a redneck girl in North Carolina was pulling for them!

Anyway, this is a great story. I love how this couple took you under their wings and saw you for the great girl you were! How cool is that? And the fact that you are still friends with them is awesome! Have a wonderful time!!!

Ernie said...

Ha! I sat for another Chicago Bear who is not in the Shuffle, but we did not stay in touch. Also great, down-to-earth people with sweet kids- Dee Dee introduced us and I spent summer dividing my time between them.

I had a poster of the monsters of the midwest or something on my bedroom wall in high school.

Arrived with no issues- O'Hare was nuts as peeps are scrambling to get out of town before the bad weather hits this weekend.

Chilling out in the hotel- that lacks a decent workout room. Might need a nap. Meeting up with my Dee Dee tomorrow and then our hubby's will join us for dinner. So excited, but I did not pack till after midnight and Mini and Curly, my fashion consultants were in bed. Left before they were awake- thus NAP. Now I am second guessing my wardrobe/shoe selections. Did not get to bring all the dang shoes that I wanted. Going with 'anything goes' because people watching at the airport proves that theory without a doubt!

Kari said...

I had to google him too LMAO. That is such a great story but before I forget, you should find them while in Dallas! I'll bet they would drop everything to see you.

I had a friend who babysat for a couple of players on the Bears. So many stories that aren't appropriate for here. Maybe when you have that girls night....

Gigi said...

How fun! Enjoy your visit!

Ernie said...

Kari- I think all my Bears stories would be considered appropriate. Your friend must've been sitting for Steve McMichael or McMahon . . . kidding, not even sure McMichael had kids. Um, and seeing my friends is the whole reaon I tagged along!

Gigi- Thanks! I chatted with Dee Dee on the phone to set up plans for tomorrow and already she had me in stitches! Didn't you used to live in Texas? Or was thst just a visit?

Nicole MacPherson said...

Have fun in Texas! Dee Dee sounds like a really lovely friend. Hope you have a great time. PS Poor Santa!

Ernie said...

Nicole- saw Dee Dee and Corey today. Had a blast. Wish they still lived in Chicago. Might make Coach teach this class annually in Dallas. And yes, poor blown up Santa!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I absolutely love this story. They sound like awesome people and I'm so glad you have someone in your 'corner' as a teen. It's a tough time and I honestly think I would win the 'awkward teen award'....I was 80lbs in high school and about 4ft 9" with a really bad haircut from my Grandmas neighbor...we moved so many times that I rarely had friends to eat with until my last year of school. It was a horrible time to say the least. I'm trying to make up for it now with all the fun. :)
I'm SO happy you'll get to visit with them again and the fact that you are getting away for a few days; even if it's just to sit in a hotel room and read a book or watch TV. You deserve some downtime.
I love that you were able to kinda fix the special Santa. I think he needs a clear case to reside in so he doesn't get knocked over again.

Ernie said...

Suz- It is a fun story and there are so many mini-stories within it that we revisited yesterday over drinks and eats. Lots a laughs! Not to mention getting caught up. Dee dee reads my Christmas poem and we've had marathon phone convos over the years- but not for a long, long time. Dee dee was like 'So nothing has changed your family members are STILL annoying!' Their oldest son and his darling wife joined us for awhile last night. He is 31 so I am officially ancient.

I NEEDED this and will be pestering Coach to agree to teach down here again next year . . . I see an annual trip in our future.

Yes- glass case for Santa holding heart who now looks like he survived a war. I envision one of those beanie baby cases.

And in my downtime worked on my memoir. It is my turn to read at my next writing group. Why can't every weekend be this fabulous?