Adventures in barbershopping

The boy’s hair is getting into his eyes, and we have been threatening him with a haircut for a few weeks now, but higher-priority things keep getting in the way. This morning, as my wife is leaving to take the Great Old One to the vet for a check-up, she asks me if I can get his hair cut. Yes! I can do that, and for once we do not have ten thousand other things that need to be done today.

I call the place we’ve been using. Someone answers the phone.

“Hi, do you have appointments available this afternoon?” I ask.

“We’re open until three,” the person on the other side says.

That is … not what I asked, and something about her tone gets directly on a nerve for some reason. A moment or two of slightly confused but pointed questions reveals that yes, they’re more or less free all afternoon and I can pick whatever time I want, and I make an appointment for noon.

The correct response here, by the way, is something along the lines of “We’ve got open spots all afternoon, what time would you like to come in?” I feel like this isn’t a complicated interaction, y’know? Probably happens a few times a day, at least? I asked about appointments. If you’re wide open, say that. Don’t get snotty with me and tell me your hours as if they weren’t right there on the website I used to find your phone number.

We’ve been using this place for a while, because they’re nearby, reasonably priced, and kid-friendly. There has always been a bit of Jesusiness about the place, but it’s never been too terribly overwhelming; they sell shirts and the shirts have a Bible verse on them for some reason along with the logo of the barbershop. That’s been about it. I live in fucking Indiana; I’m used to it.

Today when I got there their front door had been redone to include the two images in the above picture, and, well, welcome to the Don’t Want None Won’t Be None zone, folks. If I were to deliberately design a logo for American Christofascism I could not do much better than a cross with a thin blue line graphic imposed on it. My rule for when I allow my politics to influence decisions that shouldn’t be political (like where should I get my kid’s hair cut once every two or three months) is that if you make sure I know where you stand, I’m going to judge you accordingly, and if you don’t, I’m not going to go looking for trouble. And these folks have now officially crossed a (thin, blue) line that makes it perfectly clear that my business isn’t wanted there, and they’re going to get what they want from here on out.

Now, note here that 1) I have never had any problem with any of the employees, and I’m not even certain who actually owns the place; and 2) I am perfectly willing to let this rule apply to me; I wear my politics on my sleeve around here and anyone who is, say, unwilling to buy my books because of that is absolutely encouraged to make that decision. Everyone is welcome to not spend their money on my work for whatever reason they like, regardless of what I might think of the reason. I don’t actually get to have a say here! It’s your money!

And, well, when it’s my money, if you’re gonna make sure I get greeted with Jesus and Blue Lives Matter before I walk into your place of business, well, I’m gonna keep on walking. Sorrynotsorry, I guess.

In which I gain a level in Nerd Dad

The boy, who remember is eight and was never provided with a sibling, is forever crafting games that he wants his mother and I to play with him. They are damn near always some sort of Pokémon pastiche of one kind or another; “We create characters, and assign them powers, and then we battle!” only battle basically means that all of the moves he’s made up for his characters destroy all of our characters automatically. He, uh, hasn’t quite mastered the concept of game balance just yet.

“We should really get you into Dungeons and Dragons,” I said to him the other day, not expecting anything to come of what I meant as an idle comment.

Yeah, that backfired. He’s been talking about it for a solid week, and I’ve been kind of tossing around ideas for quickie adventures I might be able to run for him and my wife, and then I happened to be at Target tonight, as one does, and came across the D&D Essentials Kit, which frankly has far too much crap in it for just $24.99. There’s a rulebook (not really necessary, as I have the 5E hardcovers,) the adventure itself, some dice, a bunch of character sheets on nice paper (nonetheless, easily photocopied for backups,) a DM screen, and a bunch of little cards for status reminders and quests and magical items and other shit like this. An early look through the adventure reveals that what it actually is is a bunch of mini-quests set in the same area, so it’s going to be possible to do a bunch of shorter sessions that will be better suited to the attention span of an eight-year-old than the marathon gaming sessions I remember from high school and college.

I’m actually looking forward to this. I kind of feel bad not buying it from The Griffon, but that’s the nature of impulse buys, and I’m sure it’s gonna trigger spending a crapton of money on other stuff, and also holy crap have the nerds won the universe. You can get D&D stuff at Target. That’s kind of mind-blowing.

Merry Christmas!

Raise our hand if your wife bought your 8-year-old son what is obviously a drinking game for Christmas!

(Looks around)

Just me, eh?

Okay.

On the new newness

After several years where I was reliably getting a new phone every single year and basically coming to terms with the fact that I’d become That Guy, I waited three full cellphone generations– from the iPhone 7+ I’ve been carrying around forever to today– to upgrade my phone, and finally caved and came home with an iPhone 11 Pro Max in the Midnight Green color. I told myself I was going to wait until I could walk into the store and walk out with a phone, and that happened today. What ended up getting me to jump was the massive improvement in the cameras– I’m super psyched about getting to play with the new triple-camera setup, and the damn phone is gorgeous, to the point where for the first time I’m getting a clear case. It’s currently in my bedroom transferring all of my settings and apps and photos from the original phone, a process that was originally projected to take two hours, then 24 minutes, so I figured I had time to come out into the living room and write a blog post before going back and checking on it.

This was a long and interesting week; I was out of my classroom for two days at that rarest of beasts, a really interesting professional development opportunity, and I had parent-teacher conferences Wednesday night, which was the busiest I’ve ever been at PTCs– I had a line out my door for two hours and fifteen minutes– and then I had a parent-teacher conference for my own son on Thursday. Today most the kids actually had a recess as a little reward for surviving the first quarter, and a dozen or so of them organized an honest-to-God, flag-waving-and-chanting impromptu gay pride parade (!!!) on the soccer field. This is the first year of my career where I’ve had more than one or two kids who were conspicuously and un-selfconsciously out of the closet– there are a lot of 8th graders in my building who are somewhere on the QUILTBAG spectrum and don’t seem to give a damn who knows it.

A genuine oddity: they exist alongside the rather large contingent of more typical 8th-grade straight boys who enjoy nothing more than ceaselessly calling each other gay, and yet I have never once— and I’m watching, God damn it– seen any anti-gay bullying of any of the actual gay kids, and there are at least two boys in the 8th grade who are gay at twenty feet, if you know what I mean. I’ve never seen anyone call either of them names, even the kids who are quickest to toss “gay” at any of their straight friends.

So there may be several posts this weekend, is what I’m getting at, depending on whether I decide I want to talk about these things more. The training, at least, will probably get a post tomorrow or Sunday.

Stop snitching

I have three siblings– two girls, who are identical twins, and a boy who I think is the youngest– all in the 8th grade and all in my classes. I have two of them, one of the girls and the boy, in the same class, and the other girl is in a different group.

They are almost astonishingly different kids. I’ve had siblings before, and twins before, who I had trouble telling apart conceptually more than I did physically, if that makes any sense, because they acted so similarly. There is no way I could mistake any of these kids for one another. Even the twins have such different carriage and body language that unless they were deliberately trying to act like one another or standing perfectly still I can’t imagine ever having any trouble telling them apart.

Of the three, the boy– let’s call him, oh, George, because I need to call him something– is the most challenging. I like the kid, and I think he likes me well enough, but he’s got some problems with focusing that go a bit beyond what my average student is like. Most of the time I can keep him on track, but there are times when no one is going to be able to keep him on track.

One of those happened earlier this week, and his sister suggested I call their mother about it. I had actually just been thinking about that and said that I would, then got distracted by one of the other ten thousand things going on in my classroom. When I turned around, I realized she was on my class phone in the back of the room, and she was waving me over.

Oh you did NOT just call your mother on your own brother. Without permission. No way.

Yup. Sure did. She finishes her conversation and hands me the phone, and I consider making a bigger deal about what she just did than what her brother had been doing, and decide oh, fuck it, this may as well happen and just take it. I tell Mom I had been planning on calling her during my prep, leaving the words “… until your daughter forced the issue” unsaid, and we have a brief and reasonably pleasant conversation and she asks to talk to George. Who, for some reason, is glaring at me.

Dude, I didn’t call your mom. Talk to your sister over there. I normally find “stop snitching” culture deeply obnoxious but she totally just ratted you out and if you choose to take revenge later today once I’m not around you go right the hell ahead.

And then I’m treated to the intensely pleasant experience of watching this kid’s entire face and demeanor change as he takes the phone and has perhaps a two-minute conversation consisting of nothing but the words “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Ma’am” before handing the phone back to me and being perfectly courteous for the rest of the day.

(Actually, this is one way where all three of the kids are the same. I am more likely to get a “Sir” out of these three than any other kids in the building. It’s not perfectly consistent but it’s a damn sight more frequent than I’m used to.)

So, yeah. Combine this with the parent who I called last week and was in the building eight minutes later to have a brief conference with me and her son, and calling parents can, once in a while, actually be a good thing.