Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A daughter's love

"Daddy, I just wanted to call and tell you that Kiley and Shannon and I are making the biggest pillow tent ever. But I wanted to call and tell you goodnight. And so did Kiley and Shannon."

It doesn't get any better. Well, she could live with me, but that's another story.

When Ali was two, she started calling me "Poppie". It's still my favorite name to be called.

When Sadie was two, she asked me to tell her stories. And, Mark and Teddy stories were born.

Ali, Sadie and Georgia have heard more Mark and Teddy stories than Jerry Jones has girlfriends.

Mark and Teddy are the ultimate morality stories.

Every night, Mark and Teddy have an adventure.

Mark is always bad.

Teddy is always good.

The situation always varies. No story can be retold.

They have been at grocery stores, Six Flags, on airplanes, at church, at school, you name it, they have been there.

And Mark has done more bad things than can be imagined. And Teddy is always rewarded for his good behavior.

That Mark will never learn.

Sons have a Dad relationship. That is, if we have spent time together.

We just get it. We are men, we talk, we move on. We are bonded.

Daughters have a Daddie relationship.

Oh how I love my connections with my boys.

We laugh. We bash each other. We share sports updates.

Daughters, they need communication. Stories. Time.

I'm in the middle of one sweet week with my youngest.

No agenda. Just me and her snuggling, playing, singing, wrestling, loving.

I am the most fortunate man alive to have had two sons and three daughters.

The fortress that is built between the five of them is formidable.

The Taliban would be well advised to stay away. Don't fuck with the Burks kids.

In the meantime, the relationships I have with the girls is so amazing.

The daughter thing is over the top. And I'm right there with them.

They need daddy to be there.

They need daddy to teach them about men.

They need daddy to be accountable.

They need daddy to provide.

They need daddy to show the way.

And it is a privilege to do so.

And, even though they don't always see it the same way, the most important thing is to be there. Just be there. Be their daddy.

I hear there are men that don't do that.

I am sorry for them.

And I am sorry for their daughters.

For a man, it is the most rewarding, challenging, daunting, wonderful task on earth.

There is nothing in the world so sweet as a daughter wrapping her hand in her father's hand.

There is nothing better than a daughter wanting to snuggle with her daddy.

There is nothing better than a daughter loving her papa.

I'm so excited.

I get two more days with my peanut and her undivided attention.

Then I get to go home to Texas, where peanut wants to be, and be with her sisters.

And her lone surviving brother who she calls her bodyguard. The Zac man.

But tomorrow, I will be wrestling her to prove once again that I am King of the Hill.

She has this amazing knee drop on my back that makes her King of the Hill. I just can't let her know that quite yet.

And on Friday, we are going to the skeeball place of champions. And we shall see who rules the roost.

Oh, daughters, how special you are.

How fortunate are the men who are your fathers.

And how lucky I am to be the daddy of Ali, Sadie and Georgia.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Man Love

I am ill equipped to understand love between a man and woman.

I think I am figuring it out by what it isn't, in a painful long way.

And with patience, and the grace of God, perhaps what it is.

What I do know is man love.

Not sexual. Not romantic.

Just bonding between men that I know is a fact.

I hope women have it. But I know men do.

Men can go months, years, even decades between contact.

Yet the bonds are still there.

When men make a bond, respect each other, enjoy each other, learn from each other, it is eternal.

It doesn't need constant watering.

It's like a cactus.

It is a seed planted that will grow and be there for much longer than we are alive.

I consider myself fortunate beyond measure to have such bonds.

Baxter. Met him in 8th grade. Talked him into playing golf at 12.

The SOB is now club champion at East Lake.

Haven't talked to him in a year.

But I can call him tomorrow and we won't have missed a beat.

And there are many more. Galloway, Waldron, The Judge, Lowry (were he still with us), Morgan, Bennett, Fisher, Gebel (were they both still with us), Shackleford, Cook, Boykin, Harwell, Samchok, Elder (were he still with us).

Thru the magic of Facebook, have reconnected with friends from grammar school and high school.

The men relationships are all the same. Nothing changes.

The female relationships not so much. Gets all hung up on, well, men and women.

Man love is a wonderful thing.

I can call Hardtail who lives across the lake from me and talk about anything from our sprinkler systems to theology. I love his wife Janet, but I just can't have those same conversations.

I live in Dallas. Going to Los Angeles this week to see my peanut.

We will have a sweet time. The best. A man and his baby girl.

And while I'm there, I might see Lyle, Matt and/or Lanny.

Those guys and I can start right where we left off months or years ago.

I'm going to my hometown of Atlanta next week.

With a little luck, I'll play golf at the 9 hole muni we grew up on. And play with some buds who were just as much a knucklehead as me.

We've gone in wildly different directions, but if we can reconvene at Gordon A. Morris Memorial in College Park, it will be like nothing ever changed.

We'll call each other dickheads, assholes, MFs, and SOBs. And have love behind every word.

I've had the pleasure of making friends thru business. Men that I can call at this moment that would come to my rescue. And vice versa. Yes, we were business people.

But more importantly, we became friends. Real friends.

Haggar. Howard. Askew. Bracken. Sweeney. Lyons. Hudnall. Edelsten. Cashman. Condo. Rawlings. Aronson. Noble. Lanny. Yarbrough. Spagna. Wren. Stocker. Lents. Scully. Bud. Van Winkle.  DeVirgilio. Schornstein. Jeff. Silverstein. Siskind. Lohrer. Goldblatt. The Kohl's guys. Ambler. The JCP boys. The Commodore. The Nakash family. Olin. Gellers (were he still among us). Birmingham. Arnie. Laforce. Stephen. Hurston. The Belks and their men. DePalma. Hunt. Guglielmi. Killer. Ray. Jack. Tom. Denig. And many more.

I love men.

I do.

Married men. Single men. Straight men. Gay men.

Yes, gay men. They still get and can have man love. No expectations. Just that special bond men have in understanding how the world works and accepting each other.

I've been spoiled by the wonderful relationships that men have with each other.

No expectations. Unconditional. Accepting.

It also relates to the role of father.

Pete and I still relate.

Zac and I can communicate with a nod.

Ali and Sadie and Georgia, that's gonna take a conversation.

And it likely won't be done in one chat.

Men, we either hate each other or we love each other.

A very smart woman has told me that men can't multitask.

Perhaps that's the reason.

If I like a guy, and he's good to me, it's done.

I'm not capable of thinking of all the reasons why he might not like me.

Thank you, my men friends.

I love you all.

Except you son of a bitches and you know who you are.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hide your money in your Tempur-Pedic

It's 112 in Dallas, Texas.

And humid.

Hotter than Satan's taint.

Has been for awhile.

I choose to live here, so I have no reason to whine. But it is friggin' hot.

And I've got a bug that makes my head hurt and my stomach doing things it shouldn't.

I'm in a real bad mood.

Which brings me to money. My and your money.

Whose is it?

Due to one really stupid investment I made a few years ago, I had a significant tax loss last year.

Significant is relevant.

One woman's $100 is another man's $10.

We filed the tax return on December 31, 2009.

The refund was due in six weeks.

Well, then the IRS said they needed another form.

The exact same information, just on another form.

Filed as asked.

The refund was then due six weeks later.

The IRS said they needed one more form.

Same exact information, this time on 1040XD.

Filed as asked.

Six weeks later, no refund.

The IRS then needed form number 1040XDS.

Same exact info.

Net, net. The U.S. government has owed me money for a long time. And they are figuring out how to take their sweet time returning it.

I cannot properly explain how many hours I've spent on the phone with the lovely employees of the IRS. Who proceed to explain that my form has not yet been received. Because it takes them six weeks to process any incoming forms.

God help you if you owe the IRS money. I never have. But my understanding is they are quick to come get it. Whether you are right or wrong, if the IRS believes you owe money, they will come get it.

My accountant tells me he has never seen anything like what is going on now.

Our government is acting like the worst account payable ever.

Stall. Delay. Forms. Stall. Delay. Forms.

They have our money, and they are in no hurry to give it back.

And so, they create convenient roadblocks before checks are written to the public. The folks that created the money to begin with.

If you are owed money by the U.S. government, which we pay for, they are now floating our money because of lack of funds and overspending on their part.

This ain't right.

And the business world is doing the same thing.

The usual business of money flowing thru has slowed dramatically.

So, the CFO's of the world have figured out how to make the best of a bad situation.

Sit on other folks money. And charge them fees for it.

I opened a bank account with a large bank that uses a stagecoach as their logo. They should have used the stagecoach robbers.

I opened the account in California when I lived there.

Upon returning to Texas, my local stagecoacher told me I should change my account to a Texas stagecoach account versus a California stagecoach account.


"Because the California stagecoachers will charge you more to use your money."

"But I thought you were all on the same stagecoach."

"Not hardly. We are still separate banks."

I should have run away right then and there.

So I listened to this knucklehead. The Persian born, London educated, personal banker.

I switched the account.

I suspect he got a $5 spiff.

All I got was pain.

The stagecoach now proudly reports their improvement in profits based on overdraft fees.

When Alibaba tells you your accounts will be made identical and everything will flow thru as before, he couldn't give a shit less when it doesn't.

"Oh, Mr. Burks, you must understand that it takes our central processing unit 60-90 days to convert all of our accounts."

"Omar, where the fuck is your central processing unit? My money is somewhere in your financial ether."

"I'm not sure, sir. But believe me, it will all work out."

At $35 per bounced check from the old account to the new account, the stagecoach racked up a big bounty.

Except I pulled all my money out of that account. They are now trying to collect from themselves I guess.

And then there is American Airlines. I love that company. They do so much good.

But, they have their CFO and their processes.

Last week I booked a flight using an unused ticket from last year.

Which means they had $400 of my money since December.

So I used the unused ticket to book a flight next week.

And, since I'm such a bad customer, I had to pay $150 to rebook that ticket.

I've only flown 3 million miles with them.

I can understand why they would want to punish me.

So, I gave them my debit card to pay for the $50. The fare is $300. The change fee is $150. My credit was $400.

Guess what?

They charged my debit card for the new ticket and the change fee.

When I figured out what they had done, I called.

After twelve voice prompts, I got to a human being.

She looked at the record and admitted that they had screwed up.

She told me she was crediting my debit card that moment for the difference.

That was fourteen days ago.

I still don't have the refund.

I called today and spoke with a lovely agent who then put me in touch with her supervisor.

The supervisor was kind enough to tell me that she understood the frustration of not getting your money back promptly.

However, she also told me that, "I needed to understand the thousands of American Airlines customers that were a due a refund. The process is manual, has to go thru Wichita, and I had unrealistic expectations."

Wow. What a lesson.

When I book a ticket on American using a debit card, they suck that money right up.

They push a button and it's done.

But not so fast, Mr. 3 million miles.

You have to understand the issues faced by our folks in Wichita.

I now clearly understand their issues.

She told me that "normally", I should expect a refund in two or three billing cycles. Meaning two to three months.

Since I spoke with her, and had such a lovely time, she said she would put my request under "Priority".

I think "Priority" in her world means screw him. Put him at the end of the line. We'll see.

Regardless, thousands of folks are owed refunds by American Airlines. And American is sitting on the money as long as they can. Earning interest nightly.

This ain't right.

And then, there is the master of confusion and sucking money out of unsuspecting customers.


Their Chairman once said years ago, "Where there is confusion, there is profit."

Think about that the next time you try to decipher your phone bill.

I went to the ATT store this week.

Learned I had more options on my home phone than Obama.

So I canceled all of them. But the nice fellow informed there was a fee to cancel the services I had been paying for and never used. We had a sweet interchange, and thankfully, he waived the fees for me.

Then I had them study my cell phone bill.

I was paying for the privilege of roaming in Tunisia.

So, I canceled that too.

I think.

We'll see when the bill comes. If I can read it.

So, as a closer, they tell me they can save me money on my tv.

No longer can I put up an aluminum Christmas tree and get the local channels.

I have to pay someone.

I don't need or want 600 channels of bullshit.

So, I tell the nice folks at ATT that all I want is local channels and ESPN.

Well, that will cost you $120 a month, but if you will add the NFL Ticket, it will only be $49.99 a month.

What the . . .?

So I cancel Dish Network.

Sign up with ATT.

It was less than the current Dish Network deal.

Only one problem.

I didn't want to give them a card to charge forever.

In order to sign up, it was $19.99.

I handed the young nerd a crisp twenty.

"Sir, we can't accept cash."


"Because we are reselling Direct TV. And we have to process a payment thru our system in central processing and they can't process cash."

"Oh. Then stick it in your ass."

So, I have no TV at my house.

Guess what. It's wonderful.

I can get all the news and sports I want off the internet.

Except I'm paying some asshole in central processing at ATT for the privilege.

Anyway, I think it's time we go back to a cash based society.

Cash your paycheck. Pay in cash. The green folding kind.

It sounds redneck, but it is then your money in your hands.

When our money is all digitized, we're screwed.

Because it is no longer our money. It is "theirs".