November 25, 2014

DD #107 - The Finger

Despite some pretty serious clumsiness, I have managed to avoid major injury, for the most part. However, if one body part has endured damaged, it would be my hands, with my cranium narrowly coming in second. Though I never really cared for the expression "knowing something like the back of my hand," the scars and deformations in my paws would be easily recognizable in a hand line-up. I have jammed, sprained, broken, lacerated, and pinched my fingers on more occasions than I could jot down, though I will try in this entry. I've slammed my hand in a car door. I've cut it numerous times in various fruit and vegetable peeling and slicing mishaps. My pinkie has been stuck in another football players helmet in a poor tackle attempt. Different parts of my hand have been burned in propane incidents changing tanks at the zoo. My thumb was sliced open mimicking an over the fence catch at a little league game. Many blisters have been endured. They've developed from carelessness during home improvement issues, overdoing it at youth group bowl-a-thons, and the simple negligence of not wearing gloves while gardening. I guess I will never make it as a hand model.

November 24, 2014

DD#106 - Nicknames

I have had the pleasure (and agony) of many nicknames in my time. Since a spacing error on a 2nd grade paper plate turkey project led to the name Pe Terd, I have tried to adapt a new nickname. Though this lasted for a while, I have had the opportunity for others.  One rule of nicknames is that you can't create your own, something I learned when I tried to use Maxi as my nickname, since my initials are PAD.  This was a gross and adolescent attempt at a new name. For a while in college, I was Donkey because a worker at the desk I supervised told me that I reminded her of the donkey character from Shrek. In my baseball career, usually my last name was how I was referred to.  I even tried to get Dargatz used as  an expletive. If I banged my knee, it would be "Dargatz that hurt!"  or "God Dargatz!" While it never lasted as a curse word, my last name has been my primary nickname, along with Peter D. However, in the classroom, I do allow the students to refer to me as Mr. Donut, only after they bring me a donut.

November 21, 2014

DD #105 - Bachelor Party Bush

Bachelor parties are traditional get-togethers thrown to symbolize one last night of freedom for a groom-to-be. While no two parties are identical, there are usually similar themes: drinking, adult entertainment, and poor decisions.  I am proud to say the party in my honor fulfilled these three criteria, given you substitute adult entertainment with Brewers baseball. After enjoying some beers and the company of friends at the ballgame, we headed downtown to enjoy more beverages and enjoy the company. With plenty to drink and the jokes and conversation going wonderfully, I was having an awesome time. However, things took a quick and unexpected turn when a certain nameless friend asked which shot he could buy me to celebrate. Foolishly, I requested anything but McGillicuddy's or Goldschlager. He, wanting to apparently punish me, brought back two each of those vile liquids. While a fully coherent person might have either refused the drinks or at least taken them responsibly, I, in my less than coherent state, wanted to get this particular imbibing over with as soon as possible.  So, I took all four shots back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Let's just say a nearby bush was my next best friend and the end to an otherwise amazing evening.

November 19, 2014

DD # 104 - Fantasy Football Fiasco

Fantasy football attracts millions of football fans each season. As commissioner of my own league, I wanted a league that was less stress and more fun. Unfortunately, with my attempt to lighten the mood in my league, the more serious fantasy players have had major issues with the way I run my league. Most "regular" leagues have points awarded for "regular" categories, like touchdowns and yards. My league awards points for just about everything. In fact, if you had a player catch or throw a two-point conversion or get a safety, you'd almost be guaranteed to win that week. Another unique aspect of my league that drew moans and groans from traditional  players is that I have categories that take away points, such as interceptions and missed field goals. Also, much to the cries of the traditionalists, I include specific defensive players and categories like forced fumbles and tackles. While more traditional leagues end up with weekly scores like 40-29, or 34-26, my league often has weeks where teams get in excess of 200 points. While my league's wackiness is defined every season, without question, someone complains about the absurdity of my league. . . just the way I like it. 

November 18, 2014

DD #103 - The Ceremonial Candy Collecting

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. As a child, many bright memories about this dark holiday revolve around trick or treating. Those Sunday afternoons, my sister and I and usually Uncle Johnny scoured the neighborhood for the best treats. The years that trick-or-treating Sunday fell on a Packers bye game were especially enjoyable. Each trip, our route was the same. We started with our own house before getting a religious pamphlet from our neighbor. We trekked down 107th towards Fisher Parkway before following the creek all the way down to church and then criss-crossing all the way back home. Every year had similar moments. The houses with the "take one" only  bowls stayed the same. The house with the sign bashing the holiday was skipped. We got peanuts from the same family.  We made sure to hit the house that gave pencils and pennies. Overall, the best thing that stayed the same was the ceremonial sorting of the goodies at the end of our candy collection. We were excited to sort our favorites and dismiss ones we didn't like.  Uncle Johnny was always happy to take away our rejects. I look forward to re-living this experience with my own family.

November 17, 2014

DD #102 - @$$hole the Fish

In the apartment I shared with two friends post-college graduation, something was missing. We needed something to serve as a focal point of our establishment. All three of us being zoo employees, the logical answer was something we all could add our own personality to: an aquarium. We enjoyed shopping for fish and aquarium accessories and suffered through some trials and tribulations. We had high water acidity that delayed our ability to add fish. We had an unsuccessful attempt at including aquatic frogs. Even our prize possession, the bala sharks, didn't last as long as we hoped. Through everything, one fish survived. Even before he grew into the largest fish in the tank, he was a bully, chasing others, hoarding food, and being a terror in the tank. We named him Asshole. He had a long life, but the behavior he exhibited and ruckus he caused led to his demise. While his final moments were not witnessed, we theorize our cat's pawing at the glass spooked him enough to jump out of the tank and get batted around, suffering an excruciating death before being lost (and eventually found) under our recliner, the Green Monster. I guess he got what he deserved.

November 13, 2014

DD #101 - Christian Disciple?

I attended Lutheran grade school and high school and attended church weekly, but I don't think I'd consider myself a model for fellow young Christians to admire. My 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Irish, disagreed. I had self-control issues in school. I was loud, occasionally obnoxious, and just plain rude at times, yet these transgressions tended to fly under the radar because I wasn't the loudest, most obnoxious, or rudest.  In fact, I was a "middle of the road" kid.  My core group of friends was geekier and more of the responsible, rule-followers of my class. So, on one Sunday morning, when Mrs. Irish pulled my dad to the side to talk, I expected to be in trouble. I didn't realize the details of that conversation until the following Wednesday, which happened to be the last day of school and our school awards presentation. I was used to getting the perfect attendance certificate, but never in a million years was I expecting the Christian Discipleship Award. I was shocked when I got the award, as were some of my friends.  But shock turned into joy when I saw my father at the end of the presentation, invited to see me get awarded.

November 12, 2014

Discovering Dargatz #100 - South Side Glide

My sister was into running and I was into spending time with her so naturally, I accepted her invitation to participate in my first five-kilometer race, the South Side Glide. She was a competitive runner and I was just a kid, so I wasn't too shocked when she told me she'd meet me at the finish line. I was just hoping I would be able to finish. Initially, I had trouble controlling my pace and went too fast too soon. This forced me to slow down my pace to a brisk walk in the later stages of the race. When an elderly man and his dog passed me, I knew I couldn't get beat by this couple. I increased speed and barreled towards the finish line, successfully completing my first 5K race, just seconds after the old man and his dog. That disappointment was quickly erased as a race representative took my information and told me I would get an awards at the post-race presentation.  I was totally pumped and expected to win first place for the kid's division. Unfortunately, my wish didn't come true and I was awarded 3rd in the 18-and-under division. Still, not too shabby for a first-timer.

November 11, 2014

DD #99 - Open Swim

During my childhood summers, Monday nights meant open swim. Being a poor swimmer and having anxiety issues with water, this might be something I would avoid.  Yet, week after week, I gravitated towards going to the Tosa West pool to "swim" with my cousins, uncle, and the neighborhood scamps. Every week followed the same routine. I stayed on the shallow end or near the edge in the deeper end and rarely did I venture into the diving area. We tended to team up and try to defeat Uncle Johnny and despite our best efforts, he would always claim victory and pronounce that his undefeated streak was alive and well. We would look to impress any girls that were around with our wit and wisdom while beginning to show off our testosterone in one-upping each other for the attention of the opposite sex. We usually ended up leaving without impressing any females, getting into squabbles with other hordes of competing males, and vowing to come back better than ever the next week. I didn't enjoy the swimming and usually had to psych myself up to even get into the pool, but peer pressure and the joy of friends has unbelievable power.

November 10, 2014

DD #98 - A Lesson Learned

I have always loved history, so I was excited to learn and teach about Wisconsin's history in our Social Studies curriculum of 4th grade. As I begun my teaching, I realized how little I even knew about crucial times in my home state's history. For example, my first year, I condensed the Fur Trade Era into a one half hour lesson based on a one-page article that generalized the whole era and had no specifics about Wisconsin. Six years later, not only was I proud of my six-week unit, I was holding a rendezvous, conducting river races, and dressing up as a voyageur at our field trip to the Buckskinner's encampment. This one day lesson turned into arguably my most favorite and most thorough unit. My love for my state grew as I learned more about it. I can only hope my excitement inspired my students to learn more. I am so excited to share my knowledge and experiences with my children. More importantly, I can't wait to experience the great things this state has to offer with them. I wasn't expecting that one, boring lesson would transform the way I learned, the way I taught, and the way I lived.

November 6, 2014

DD #97 - Italian Encounter

I had no idea. I was oblivious to the opportunity that I had. I probably wasted time while I was there and missed opportunities I will never get back. Despite all of this, spending a week in Italy while in high school was one of the best experiences of my life. I served as a bodyguard at the Spanish Steps. I sang at St. Peter's Basilica. We toured the Colosseum. I met an Italian TV star and her dog. I served as a wingman for my friend's budding romantic relationship. We got lost far from the hotel and miraculously, made it back to our hotel unscathed. Many memories from this trip will last forever. Throwing coins at the Trevi Fountain. Finding out I enjoy American lasagna way more than the Italian version. Surviving Italian traffic and watching our bus driver take on on a death-defying adventure through the streets of Rome. The beauty of this experience was that I enjoyed amazing deals for the flight and lodging because our tour guide also taught Latin at our school, was Italian and had incredible connections with the airlines and many others in Italy. Maybe someday, I will experience the allure of Italy again.

November 5, 2014

DD #96 - Struck By a Star

I am not sure what motivated me to try out for the lead role in the grade-school musical, but I remember being excited about getting it and more excited about seeing my classmates' reaction when I started singing at the audition. I don't think they expected it. I'm not sure I did. Looking back, I don't really remember too much about the actual performance. I played Reuben, a shepherd boy, and I had lots of solo lines and songs. The night performance was not stressful at all due to the fact that our morning school performance was marred by absences and fill-ins. I remember being excited to perform and proud of what I accomplished. I still hum my big solo to myself. . . ."I'm not trying to be a big shot, I'm not trying to be something I'm not, but I've got to be what I believe inside of my heart. I'm just a shepherd boy, struck by a star." This was truly the beginning of my musical career and the confidence boost I needed to try new things and focus more on what I wanted to do rather than conform to what I thought others expected me to do.

November 3, 2014

Discovering Dargatz #95 - Mad Love

I remember sitting in the back of the car nervously visualizing the night ahead of me.  Erika and I had liked each other since 7th grade and I finally got the nerve to ask her out close to 8th grade graduation. We decided to go to the movies. Being under sixteen, her father drove us to the theater. In my infinite wisdom, I assumed the Chris Farley movie, Tommy Boy, would be at this theater. When we realized it was at one on the other side of the freeway, it was too late to go there as our driver had already left. Being under 18, our options were limited as the majority of the movies were animated G movies or Rated R flicks. In fact, there really was only one option, a movie called Mad Love. I wasn't too thrilled about the way my plan was going awry.  This didn't change as we sat through a very disturbing movie about how infatuation with another person can turn you crazy. Not the most ideal setting for my first official date and probably one of the reasons our relationship didn't blossom. This was a foreshadowing of my lovelife as I grew up.