Posts Tagged ‘ The Wonder Years ’

I Am Jack’s Nostalgic Narrator

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Nine months.

Am I a gifted writer? I don’t really think so. My blogging abilities do not necessarily mean that I am halfway decent at crafting a professional, structured, magazine quality article.

Instead, I see myself as a modern day philosopher who happens to be an engaging storyteller. In other words, if I’m good at anything when it comes to writing, it’s knowing how to be a captivating narrator.

Fortunately for me, I’m never short on material. I’m a dad; therefore, something new and exciting (and exhausting!) is always going on in my life. I laugh at the foreign concept of “writer’s block.” My journal is full of blog titles just waiting to be written. My only threat is battling “time block.”

I would say my love for narrating life has something to do with the second best TV show ever, The Wonder Years. (The best show ever is Lost.) I sort of grew up thinking that I was Kevin Arnold. As a kid, I looked like him and had the same mannerisms as him. Even today, there’s still a strong resemblance. I easily related to his sentimental and awkward life stories. And man, the soundtrack- Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Nick Drake…

But the strongest connection I always felt to the show was actually the narration, as performed by Daniel Stern. (Yes, Marv the Burglar from the movie Home Alone.)

The narration of each episode of The Wonder Years perfectly built on the idea yearning for the past. Unsurprisingly, the word “nostalgia” loosely translates from a Swiss word meaning “homesickness.” Another favorite TV show of mine that contains flawless narration is Scrubs, as done by Zach Braff, playing the character of J.D. Dorian.

In both of these sitcoms, there was always some understated lesson to be learned from life, as it pertained to the particular story being told. That is the exact format I keep in mind with every Dadabase post: Every story is ultimately summed up by some sort of paradox, revelation, or moral.

Since high school, I have been known as a guy who is “stuck in the past.” I guess it’s a necessary trait for me so that I can be engaging in my writing; it helps create a universal sense of familiarity.

Sure, I’m stuck in the past. But I’m forced to live in the present. And the present instantly becomes the past. So it all works out.

Right now, the most complicated phrase that my son, Jack, can regularly speak is “to-gaht, to-ghat, to-ghat, to-ghat, to-ghat…”. Therefore, I must do his talking for him, by telling his stories through my “grown up” perspective.

I am Jack’s life witness and adult voice.

I am Jack’s nostalgic narrator.

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Investing in the Undervalued and Underappreciated

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Nine months.

On Thursday, October 5th, 2006, I looked across a large, crowded room and saw a beautiful 25 year-old girl who had no legitimate reason to be alone. In that wishful moment at The Factory in Franklin, Tennessee, I thought about how wonderful life could be if I could get that beautiful Puerto Rican stranger to fall in love with me. Turns out, she wasn’t Puerto Rican; it also turns out, she did fall in love with me- but it took exactly four months to the day for her to see me as more than just a friend.

Without knowing it, I applied a long-standing business principle of billionaire Warren Buffet, as explained in his son Peter Buffet’s book, Life is What You Make It:

“The idea is elegantly simple. Find something the world underappreciates, support it, don’t meddle, and allow time for the world to catch up in its valuation.”

I basically can’t stop obsessing over that very true concept. It doesn’t just apply to business; it appears to life in general.

How did a guy like me end up getting a girl like Jillanne Tuttle to fall in love with me? More importantly, why was this girl still even single, anyway?

Because she was underappreciated. So I supported her. And I didn’t meddle. Needless to say, it worked. That’s the only way I could have gotten a girl so out of my league like that.

I ignored the bad advice of well-meaning guy friends who tried to tell me I should come on strong and ask her out on a date from the very beginning. Instead, I privately vowed to be her friend first, not meddling with our friendship. Then interestingly, on February 5th, 2007, a switch flipped; she finally saw me in the romantic way that I had seen her from day one.

Is it crushing to my ego that she didn’t immediately fall in love with me for my weird and random conversations, not to mention my physical likeness of a plethora of Jewish actors such as Fred Savage, who played Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years? (Featured right, with his son.)

Not really. Subconsciously I knew back then that if I were to truly capture the attention, as well as, the heart of this girl, it would take more than all the culturally valuable assets I didn’t possess.

The truth is, I happened to be the right guy in the right place at the right time, making a conscious effort to invest in a person who others foolishly overlooked. So I made the most of it. Thank God it worked.

That same principle is how The Dadabase was born. I realized there was all kinds of information for moms-to-be, but not for dads-to-be. So a few weeks after we found out we were going to have a baby, I decided to start a weekly blog from my fatherly perspective. Sure enough, that was sort of a rare thing- unique enough that  American Baby took notice in their magazine in October of last year.

And when Parents.com started asking around in their search for an official daddy blogger, I happened to be the right guy in the right place at the right time, because their sister magazine American Baby had featured my blog on page 13 of their issue just five months before.

In other words, I found something the world had underappreciated (parenting advice and narration from the dad’s perspective), I supported it, I didn’t meddle, and the world began to catch up in its valuation.

As for using this concept in parenting, I’m already seeing how it translates. No other humans can see more value in my son than my wife and I can. So we will reasonably support him, do our best not to meddle in ways we shouldn’t, and wait for the world to catch up in his valuation.

It’s wild to think that we are surrounded by underappreciated things in this world everyday, just waiting to be supported and valued. What great things are we missing out on simply because certain rocks haven’t been turned over and certain doors have never been opened?

Some possible answers could include “flying cars like in Back to the Future, Part II,” “cell phone watches like Penny and Brain had on Inspector Gadget,” and “the comeback of Pepsi Clear.”


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The First Time Dad at Age 29 Club

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

At 8:37 tonight, I will turn 29 years old.

I can think of three 29 year-old first time dads right off.  John Krasinski playing Jim Halpert on The Office.  Zack Braff’s character, Michael, in the movie The Last Kiss.  And Kevin Bacon playing Jake Briggs in the movie She’s Having a Baby.  And now I shall be among them.

Of course, I’m not an actor or a character in a movie or TV show.  But it’s natural  to look at them and think, “Hey, I can relate to them. And if they can pull it off… so can I.”

I have a habit of subconsciously giving myself reassurance based on the lives of actors and fictional characters.  The truth is, we all do.  I admit I used the characters of Stephanie Tanner (from Full House) and Winnie Cooper (from The Wonder Years) as the standard of the girl I wanted to marry.

Mission accomplished.  My wife is a fun-loving all-American middle child from northern California (like Stephanie Tanner) and sweet, respectful, and passionate (like Winnie Cooper).  I can’t deny that my personal life is affected by fiction.

So I put myself in the shoes of the average guys I see on my TV screen every week.  I am average, like them.  Arguably normal, like them.  Clueless to fatherhood, like them.

And from what I’ve learned so far about being a first time parent is this: Being clueless is sort of the whole point.  No one actually knows what they’re doing.  It’s a character building experience, just like marriage.

I think of this banking commercial that was airing a few months back.  A first time dad brings his newborn home and holding the baby up to his eye level he says, “I know.  It’s not about me anymore.”

Yes, my life as I know it is ending.  In November I will begin Life: The Sequel.  I will instantly be transformed from Married Guy to Married Guy With a Baby.  Totally cool with me.

Because I can easily admit that the transition from Single Guy to Married Guy has done nothing but make me a better person.  I’m less self-centered and more easy going because I have less personal expectations to be met.  My expectations revolve around someone else, as a Married Guy.  I am a helper and a partner.  I don’t mind those roles.

So how much more will I improve in my journey of becoming a more giving person once the baby gets here?  I can only imagine: that much more.

Born into this world as a baby who was completely dependent on others for everything, I have spent 29 years learning to do things on my own, having no choice but to realize it’s not all about me, more and more each day.

I had nay sayers trying to warn me before I got married how much I would miss the single days of answering to no one.  But almost two years into being married, I don’t feel that way at all.  I was not cut out to be a Single Guy.  So glad those days are over.

While I am fully aware that having a baby changes everything, I welcome this change.  What good would it do to spend the next five or ten years just trying to save up money to try to afford to have a kid? I would never reach that point of affordability or personal readiness.

I was married at age 27, the average age for an American man to be married.  And I couldn’t find Internet research to back it up, but I would have to assume that it’s safe to say that age 29 is the average age of a married, first time dad.  Despite my overawareness of my own quirkiness, I live a pretty normal life.

And that’s what I want.  A normal life.  Dirty diapers and all.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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