Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Father's Day has been my favorite holiday (or whatever it is) for more than a decade now. It's early in the summer so school is out but summer camps haven't started yet. I spend most of the day with my kids. This Father's Day I was with my family from the time I woke up until just a few minutes ago when they all went to bed.

Just before 8am, my daughter Lisa and I rode to the Greenfield Criterium, a race that has been one of the Pennsylvania State Bicycling Championship races for more than a decade and has always been held on Father's Day. From 2001 - 2004 Lisa raced at Greenfield in individual races and with me on the tandem. Today we both used the ride to the race as a 7-mile warm up: me for the bike race, she for a five-mile run that is part of her summer training for cross country in the fall.

I warmed up with my teammate Kevin then we lined up at 9am for the 55+ State Championship race. The field was small, just over 20 riders, but included several masters state and national champions. Worse than that for me, each one-mile lap of the 20-lap race ends with a 1/4-mile 5% climb. On the positive side, my wife and kids were on the side of the road near the start-finish line cheering every lap. They only cheered for me for five laps. I was hanging in for most of five laps, but at the end of the fourth lap they rang the bell for a premium prize or "preem" as they are called. For the first four laps there were a few half-hearted attacks that got sucked right back into the pack so I could hang on. After that bell rang, one of the stronger riders took off on the long, shallow downhill. By the flat stretch at the bottom of the hill we were strung out in a line going 32mph. I was 8th at the beginning of the lap and last as we turned up the hill to the start-finish line. By the time they crossed the start-finish line I was gasping, wishing I had skipped breakfast, and watching the rest of the riders disappear.

But I only expected to last three laps, so I felt pretty good. We cheered for my teammate and for Scott Haverstick for a few more laps then Lisa and I rode home to change for a day trip to NYC. It was fun to be in a pack again and riding fast, even if it was not for very long. I am going to need a lot of hill training when I get back from Iraq.

Just after 11 am we were on the road to NYC. We drive to Newark, park the car and take the train to Penn Station when we go to NYC. When we first got to NYC my kids walked south on Broadway from 32nd to get some lunch and I went up to 6th and 47th to the NY Post office. I visited a friend there for a few minutes, but like every major daily they do maximum work with minimum staff, so after we chatted for a while I went across the street to Pret a Manger (Ready to Eat) for a sandwich and a drink since the kids had already finished eating.

While I was eating, a tall man in his early 60s strode in. He was dressed casually in expensive clothes. He had a theatrical air enhanced by his well-dyed, well-coiffed red hair (NO ONE his age has red hair). He was waving a $20 bill over his head and saying "I need change." He passed three other people in line and shoved the bill toward a young woman behind the counter who took it then continued to wait on the customer in front of her. Mr. Drama paced left, turned and looked at me (I was in uniform) and said "Gussman, what MOS are you?" in a very Broadway voice. I kept eating. He said, "I was a 95B20 in Quan Tri in 1967. I used to drive lifers like you crazy." Then he grabbed his money and strode out.

This dramatic draftee was in when soldiers wore their rank on their sleeve or collar. He had no idea what rank I was and assumed I had served for the last three decades or more. You just don't get guys like him in the Army without a draft.

Then I met my kids at 23rd and we went to Chinatown to shop at the street vendors. Lisa's senior project was a study of street vendors. She took me to a shop that had a basement storage area where a street vendor had taken her to show her the best stock she had. We walked back to the north on Broadway. Nigel and I got coffee and watched people go by while Lauren and Lisa shopped. We then took the Subway to Penn Station and cuaght a train to New Jersey. I have been trying to eat food I can't get in Iraq. Almost every day I buy bread from a bakery. Today it was NY Challah from Zaros. We at Chinese food in New Jersey (Chinese food at the DFAC is not very good.) then drove the 150 miles back to Lancaster singing along with a playlist of songs from Lauren's iPod:

Boom Boom Boom -- the outhere brothers
Spice up your life -- spice girls
Because you loved me -- Celene Dion (Very funny when sung by a 9-yr-old boy)
Back at one -- brian mcknight
Could you be loved -- bob marley
Baby baby -- Amy Grant
I know you want me (calle ocho) -- pitbull
Number one -- john legend (featuring Kanye west)
She hates me -- puddle of mud
The lion sleeps tonight -- lion king soundtrack
Let it rock -- kevin rudolph and lil wayne
Paper planes -- M.I.A.
Wake me up before you go go -- Wham!
Beautiful Girls (remix) -- sean kingston
Hello, I love you -- the doors
Get off of my cloud -- the rollingstones
Boom Boom Pow -- Black Eyed peas
Single ladies -- Beyonce
Welcome to the world -- kevin rudolph
Let's call it off -- drake
Get silly -- V.I.C.
Girl talk songs
New Soul -- yael nai m
1234 -- feist
Hot Revolver -- lil wayne and kevin rudolph

Father's Day doesn't get any better than this.

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