Father Knows Nothing

Birthday performance art

2013-07-29T00:00:00Z 2013-08-02T00:18:07Z Birthday performance artRick Kaempfer nwitimes.com
July 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

This past weekend I turned 50 years old. I had a nice weekend with my family (my brother even came in from Detroit to visit which was greatly appreciated). We saw the U.S. Soccer team win the Gold Cup at Soldier Field together.

But this was really a whole weekend celebration and it kicked off on Friday night when I invited a bunch of my buddies to come play garage poker with me. We usually do this about once a year, and we really look forward to it. We smoke cigars, have a few beverages, and when we remember, even play a hand of poker or two.

Unbeknownst to me, my buddy Dave had planned a special celebration for this particular episode of garage poker. It was described by the rest of the fellas as a work of performance art, and I have to agree. He brought a large packet of envelopes, and handed them to me one at a time. Each envelope contained a birthday greeting.

To say this was an eclectic group of birthday greetings would be an understatement. He had been working on this for about six months, and here are a few of the people who sent birthday wishes…

*Essra Mowhawk

She is the singer of the Schoolhouse Rock song “Interjections”.

*Carmen Fanzone

Good ol’ #23 on the early 70s Cubs. A fine backup infielder and trumpet player.

*Adrian Belew

Lead guitarist of the band “King Crimson”. Dave and I saw “Amadeus” in a movie theater with him in 1984.

*Larry Gura

Former Cubs pitcher, who actually became a good pitcher after he left the Cubs. He won 20 games one year for the Kansas City Royals.

*David Stambaugh

He played “Toby Whitewood” in the original “Bad News Bears”. Toby was the blonde kid with the foul mouth. (My favorite character)

*Carl Reiner

His publicist pointed Dave in the right direction to get an autograph on e-bay. Mr. Reiner doesn’t actually send birthday messages to 50-year-old strangers in the Midwest. The autograph was good enough. Carl Reiner is one of my heroes.

*Tim Reid

That’s right, Venus Flytrap from WKRP in Cincinnati. I was pretty excited about that one.

*Barry Diamond

He was the guy in the movie “Bachelor Party” who said: “Let’s have a bachelor party with guns and chicks and firetrucks!” And that’s how he signed the card.

*Don Kessinger

The former Cubs shortstop (and White Sox manager). One of my childhood heroes. I saw him hit an inside the park homer once.

*The Kings

That’s right, the band who recorded “The Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide”. My favorite one-hit wonder band from the early 80s.

*Darcy Rota

Good ol’ #18 of the 1970s Chicago Blackhawks. I believe he was the last one before Denis Savard to wear that number.

*Susan Cowsill

The youngest of the Cowsill siblings. They were a popular singing group in the late 60s, and I believe the inspiration for the television series “The Partridge Family”.

*Chief Illiniwek

Not just any Chief Illiniwek; Bill Forsythe, the Chief Illiniwek from my time in Champaign.

*Carel Struycken

He played the giant on one of my favorite TV shows from the early 90s—“Twin Peaks”

Those are just a few of the cards that Dave took out of his folder one by one and slid across the table to me during his work of performance art. Each one impressed me more than the last.

But I must admit this performance also ticked me off a bit. After all, Dave has been working on this for months. He did research, found these people, sent them SASE envelopes, and encouraged them to write mean things about me. (One of the cards mocked my gout)

But Dave is turning 50 in only six weeks.

What can I possibly do in that short amount of time to compete with that?

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Rick Kaempfer's business card says author/writer/blogger, but his real job is "stay-at-home-dad."