That Moment When You Realize That You’re Fine With Being A Soccer Dad

In recent days, there’s been much discussion among my fans/haters (who are really just fans under a different name) comparing my dear brother and me. Frankly, this is a stupid comparison, and it wouldn’t exist if we didn’t share both a name and a blog. We have had remarkably different lives, separated by six years, eight grades in school (Jack skipped two grades, and when the school wanted to do the same with me, my parents declined, with my father saying that advancing Jack was the “greatest mistake of his life”), and nearly completely different interests.

In fact, there are only four things in which we’ve ever shared an interest.

  • BMX racing. As kids, we both pedaled around dirt tracks, but Jack kept at it much longer than I did. My interest in BMX was replaced by traditional ball and stick sports as a pre-teen.
  • Cars. Where Jack has much more of a mechanical interest in cars and how they work, I’m more interested in the business side, specifically the dealership model—it’s how I make my actual living. We both like racing, but he has considerably more seat time than I, and I’m just as happy to man the radios and devise team strategy as I am to wheel. I’ve won national autocross trophies, and I’ve had a couple of podium finishes in AER, whereas Jack’s won a bunch of endurance races, stood on the podium at Sepang, etc., etc.
  • The written word. Jack’s much more well-read than I am in the classic sense. Much of my reading growing up was devoted to the pages of Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. While I believe Jack to be a transcendent talent when it comes to writing, I accept that I’m merely good. But I also try to write more plainly, especially when I was at TTAC. I saved my more floral writing for Jalopnik and R&T.
  • Music. While Jack has been an amateur guitarist and collector for three decades, I majored in music performance, was a featured soloist with the OSU Jazz Ensemble, played in big bands with members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, wrote three records worth of original music, performed in thirty states and seven different countries, and backed up such legends as Barry White and Al Green.I can harmonically analyze most music after hearing it a single time. If I enjoyed being poor more than I do, I’d be a professional musician.

That’s it. There are far, far more ways that we are different than similar. Our childhoods were completely different. I played football, basketball, and ran track for my school, and played summer league baseball. I think Jack was on the lacrosse team for a week once. I was in the jazz and concert band programs, and he quit trumpet in middle school. I was the president of my class. Suffice to say, he wasn’t. I had a 3.9 GPA and National Merit Semi-Finalist test scores. I’m not sure Jack attended classes.

As adults, we’re not very similar, either. This is most obvious in the great difference in the way we parent our children.

You’ll notice that you won’t read any tales of my son or daughter karting, or taking bicycles to skateparks. My son’s ninth birthday is less than a month away, and he can’t even ride a bicycle. He has no interest in it. Our neighborhood isn’t conducive to bike riding—we basically live on a long cul-de-sac off of a busy country road. I put him in a go-kart once at a Magic Mountain, and he said, “I don’t want to do this.” I said, “Okay,” and gave him more video game tokens.

In fact, when it comes to parenting, I’m disgustingly suburban. We have a Ford Flex, even though something like a mid-sizer would be fine. Soccer, that most suburban of American sports, tends to dominate our lives.I’ve coached both of my kids in soccer, and I currently coach my son’s futsal team.My son plays soccer five days a week in the spring and fall, plays futsal in the winter, and goes to soccer camp in the summer. He’s the best goalkeeper under 10 that most people have ever seen (he’s in the green goalkeeper’s kit in the pic at the top). My daughter takes tap, jazz, and ballet lessons. I just bought her a digital 88-key console Yamaha piano to encourage her in the music lessons she’s been taking this year.

I review my kids’ homework with them and make them re-do it if it’s messy or incorrect. Well, I review my son’s homework—my daughter’s is always picture perfect. (She’s a people pleaser.) I attend parent-teacher conferences and I go to school plays. I take lots of pictures and I always ask people to smile.

Jack often asks if my son, Kevin, wants to do something with his son. I always have to remind him that my daughter, Regan, would probably like to be involved, too. I’m not all about feminism or whatever, but I’m always conscious of the fact that my little girl can do whatever she wants to do. I coached her in soccer for a year, but she decided that “running my hardest isn’t my favorite thing to do, Dad.” I’m not displeased that her interests are in dance, music, and dolls, but I’d support her equally if she decided it was softball and carpentry.

So yes, Jack is the better writer, better driver, and is probably just plain ol’ more interesting. There’s not a lot of compelling drama coming from a guy who’s been married for 15 years and lives in Suburbia with his two Aryan-looking children in a golf-course house and a three-car garage that’s mostly filled with children’s toys.

Granted, that’s a simplistic way to describe my life. I travel 40+ weeks a year, and I’ve been to 46 out of 50 states and 97 of the largest 100 American cities in the last half decade alone. I’m fortunate enough to enjoy the finer things in life, thanks to a generous salary and a hefty travel budget. I’ve driven more supercars than most people have seen in person. I’m very fortunate and blessed to lead the life that I lead.

But when it gets right down to it, I’m a suburban soccer dad who wears Brooks Brothers polos and yells at soccer referees. And I’m completely okay with it. If that bores you, so be it.

24 Replies to “That Moment When You Realize That You’re Fine With Being A Soccer Dad”

  1. MrGreenMan

    You should get some Alial Fital polos. I’m not a fan of polos – it reminds me of childhood plus being an intern – but the former footballer makes up for it with the outlandish colors and patterns.

    • Bark M Post author

      Hey, seriously. Shut the fuck up. This isn’t TTAC, so I don’t have to pretend to be cordial to you.

        • Foxtrot Alpha

          Everyone has their limits, especially when you keep needling them ALL THE TIME, VoGo.
          And I have to say, I was expecting your response…..and was not disappointed once again.

  2. Frank Galvin

    Indulge me if you can. When shit goes down, Jack will theow down and end it when fighting is no longer necessary. Bark – am I correct in assuming that you’re the guy that has to be dragged off before a major felony is committed. I don’t know why, but you strIke me as having some concealed rage tucked away. Or I could have it reversed. Who knows?

    • Bark M Post author

      I think we’re both fairly reactionary when it comes to anger. I cringe sometimes to think how I’ve yelled at people who didn’t really deserve it. I’m kinda chunky and out of shape right now, but when I’m in good shape…you’re right. I fight dirty.

  3. Dirty Dingus McGee

    As long as you are happy with your life, doesn’t matter what others think. They don’t live it so their opinion is irrelevant. If I had listened to the naysayers over the years, I would have never done 1/2 the things I have. For me, that includes leaving the corporate rat race 19 years and 4 months ago. I didn’t have a problem with the work, just all the drama and bullshit that went along with the corporate structure. During the last 2 decades there were a lot of struggles and sacrifices, ie; selling a collector vehicle I had hoped to keep forever. But when you gotta meet payroll, not to mention a hot meal once or twice a week, you do what you have to. These days I’m in a better financial position than I ever would have been if I continued my former career path so in the big picture it worked for me. I now have the opportunity again to indulge my hobbies and interest’s, which HAVE changed in the last 20 years. I can also manage my time to where I have more free time to indulge my interest’s. But as the popular expression goes, YMMV. What worked for me might not for everyone.

    BTW; congrats on 15 years of marriage. Without looking up the stats, I think that’s a good bit above the average.

  4. Yamahog

    Nice to see someone who reviews cars acknowledge the view that zippy driving isn’t the ultimate endeavor. It’s a richer hobby than closed circuit racing and discretionary driving on the mythical twisty roads that aren’t patrolled.

    On its face, tales of big bore bikes and mysterious women of the night are more attention grabbing, esp. for people who want to do those things but chiefly want to find reasons not to do those things. But narratives by people who enjoy their lives and find serenity is far more uncommon.

    I haven’t been back to TTAC since you left and with this great content on riverside green, I don’t miss it one bit. I just hope you and Jack can monetize this site. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

    • Bark M Post author

      Monetizing is a concept we kick around from time to time. There’s certainly enough traffic to do it, thanks to all you who visit. But there’s something that feels a tad icky about it.

      • Dirty Dingus McGee

        There is nothing wrong with making some money off of your time. I don’t work for free and certainly don’t expect others to.

  5. Dan R.

    Maybe it’s because it was simply good; maybe it’s because 2016 seemed to hammer home the collective disinterest in “Flyover” lives, but I enjoyed the heck out of this, Bark. Contentment and self-aware musings of a Midwestern family man would not seem to make for the most obvious leisure reading, and yet, here we all are.

    Do you think you and Jack share a mutual envy and/or curiosity of each other’s lifestyles, or is it a zero sum game? If the latter, who would you guess was “winning”?

    Best,

    Dan

  6. WhiskeyRiver

    You know what? You might be sick of me right now which wouldn’t surprise me very much.

    Tonight at TTAC:

    WhiskeyRiver
    January 27th, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    On my WAY out the door.

    See ya, wouldn’t wannna be ya.

    All of you deserve each other.

    Cancel my account.

    I’m out.
    Reply

    WhiskeyRiver
    January 28th, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Since you didn’t cancel my account…

    Had enough,

    REMOVE ME.

    I’m a FUCKIN’ AMERICAN PATRIOT. An Ex-Army soldier. Real deal.

    I love my country,

    Almost everyone in this forum I’ve fought for. I’ve lost friends that gave up their lives so you assholes are free to say what you say.

    I’ve fought for you all. But I’ve had enough.

    I’ve tried to be patient.

    I’ve tried to be civil.

    What have you done in return?

    Tonight, I looked an EX-MARINE in the face. An EX-MARINE who’s wife was almost killed in a car accident. He is struggling.

    I looked him in the eye. Eye to eye. Then I looked in my wallet. I had $90. I gave it to him.

    What have you sniveling asshole jerks done lately for one of our treasured Veterans? What?

    I do something every damn day to protect Country and lifestyle.

    What are you jerks doing? Popped your last $90 bucks out of your wallet for a Vet lately?
    Click to Edit
    Request Deletion
    (29 minutes and 39 seconds)
    Reply
    0 avatar
    WhiskeyRiver
    January 28th, 2017 at 12:26 am

    Post it Mark Stevenson, Dare you,
    Click to Edit
    Request Deletion
    (31 minutes and 45 seconds)
    R

      • 1A

        Their snark is pretty nasty. I had a really liberating feeling when I did a search to see if Bark M had a new online presence after leaving TTAC–I found this seemingly underground site (ha ha), each story quickly adding more and more comments. No PC filter?! Check! (And yes, that other place had a filter–after they had their big spiel on their new no-holds-barred commenting policy, they didn’t approve my first comment!). I have no desire to read the whiny-ass comments there anymore, so I hope more and more articles appear on this site I discovered. Hopefully Freedom of Speech will be utilized more in 2017; 2016 surely made me appreciate the concept and its near departure. I encourage you to not even open that site–passive-aggressive people are bitter, angry, vile, jealous creatures. They only exist to drive sane, rational truth-tellers crazy! Leave it and find something better for your mind and soul.

        It’s funny how different environments can change our perceptions. I recently took my grandmother (The Greatest Generation, WWII) to the “city”. Everywhere we went, she had questions, looked things over in line…and paid with the exact change in the fast-food restaurant line that was getting longer and longer behind us–yet everyone we encountered was very helpful, and no one in line was impatient. How often is that the case in this fast-paced world? It left an impression on me afterwards…there really are some great people out there…not everyone SUCKS!
        The next day I read some comments in the small local newspaper that military members wrote in appreciation for gifts they received–just genuinely ecstatic that people cared about them. Gotta love those feelings!

        I think our world will get better. The squeeze is on the shitty people!

        Find good outlets for your energy, forget the rest. Thanks for your service.

  7. DirtRoads

    Bark, I mean this in a kind way, but I really don’t care about your personal life much more than you care about mine. What I like is that you write well and have interesting things to say. That’s why I read you. Keep that going, and I will thank you again in a few years.

    Loved your smackdown on Vogo, since he’s always standing in back of a horse poking it with a pin, waiting to get kicked. I think he likes it though, so don’t put too much energy into it.

    As for comparisons with your hippie brother, hey, at least you two act like brothers. There’s more to it than sharing the same name.

    And for the record, I read the archived version of your last TTAC story and loved it. While Chrome has that site on my list of sites I visit often, I’d delete it completely if Jack leaves it too. He’d be the only interesting writer left there as far as I’m concerned.

  8. Rod Jones

    There is one way that you two are alike and that is your support of Trump regardless of the evidence piling up that shows he is unfit for office. How can you support a man who selected a closest adviser who says things like the time when told Vanity Fair last summer that Trump was a “blunt instrument for us … I don’t know whether he really gets it or not.”, or “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years,” he said in March 2016. “There’s no doubt about that.”, or “To be brutally frank, I mean Christianity is dying in Europe, and Islam is on the rise,” he said in January 2016. “Some of these situations may get a little unpleasant,” Bannon said. “But you know what, we’re in a war.”. Next up is legalized discrimination …https://www.thenation.com/article/leaked-draft-of-trumps-religious-freedom-order-reveals-sweeping-plans-to-legalize-discrimination/

    The US was intentionally set up secular country! Religion should never be a part of the conversation.

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