Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The summer I spent with a Renaissance Man.

     The sad fact is,  that when your kids go off to college, you're not guaranteed to get them back each summer.  Jobs, internships, friends, and apartment rentals can all conspire against you to have them live full time in the city that they are being educated in.  This summer may have been my last with my psychology major, Dan, and if I had to live through it, I thought you should experience it too...

DaVinci's Vitruvian Man
     One of the smartest things I ever did (yes, besides marrying Char), was to put a bedroom up in the Garaj-Mahal and let my college kids use it.  Since it's 100 ft away from the house and detached, they can stay up later, and I can get up early and we don't bother each other.  Maybe if I had this option as a teenager, I wouldn't have been thrown out of my Dad's house at 18, but probably not, when I was tossed out, it was approximately 2 years later than I should have been, and it was a great lesson for me, but I digress, the bedroom was a smart idea. Why?  Because it gives me enough space from my son that I don't have to react to each of his actions, and enough space for him to be creative and not be hindered by his parent's admonitions.  It was never more true than this summer, the summer I lived with a Renaissance Man. 

    A Renaissance Man can be defined in at least two ways, "a man of the Renaissance who was educated, cultured, and proficient in a variety of fields" or " A present day man who has acquired knowledge and proficiency in more than one field".  I'm sure, that after this summer, my son Dan, fits the second description more than aptly.  Where to begin?   On his first trip this year, technically it was before summer, he went off into the woods with two friends to live deliberately.  He and his college roommates backpacked into the woods and
Dinner in the woods
they spent the better part of 2 days living off the land and learning about all things natural.  This summer he had picked up "Walden" and our discussions of late have centered around whether we need all the "trappings" that we have.  Don't laugh, but I'm a fan of Thoreau myself, but my interpretation puts my Sapphire well into the "needs" column versus the "trappings" one.  I'll give up the Mercedes, but try to take my gin, and see how you fare.  When the nature lover came back for the summer, he immediately went to work both educating himself in a variety of fields and then practically applying that knowledge.  I've been the beneficiary of some of this, like the Limoncello, for instance.  One day I passed a vat of clear liquid on the floor of my garage with a cork in it.  I watched, as over the next few days lemon peels were added to it, and then fermented until the liqueur base was done.  Dan added simple syrup after that, chilled it, and moved the alcohol concentration down to the required level and damn it, he produced a pretty nice approximation of the Limoncello I'd had a a dozen different Italian joints.  Surely the work of a Renaissance Man?

      Not giving it up that easy, huh?  Alright, how about all the odd things that Fed-ex has been delivering to
Olde World Style Globe
the house?  We never know what he might show up with, but I'll tell you just some of the things I do remember.  It was a day after the throwing knives showed up, that a target appeared in my backyard and the Renaissance Man started to get proficient at throwing them. An Olde World style globe showed up next, but there is a bar hidden in it.   A long stemmed Churchwarden pipe showed up a few weeks later, and this started to get used on our Thursday night musings on the deck.  It was a natural progression from his tea ball, where he took loose tea and steeped it (no Lipton for a Renaissance Man), instead now he took loose tobacco, packed it into a bowl and smoked it. One morning, and you cannot make this stuff up, I passed the counter of my Tiki bar on the first floor of the garage, and there spread out, were dried green herbs, a glass container with tubes and a fine white powder.   Now, I know where you are going, but even though it was after a party, I figured that the explanation wasn't as simple as the evidence left before me.  The mortar and pestle next to the pile gave me my first clue.  Dan showed me later, that he had been
The Renaissance Man trying to experience prison

grinding some ingredients to capsulize them in order to make his own study aide, which turned out to be a mixture of caffeine pills and some other herbs.  The bong-looking device was actually a small distiller that he had used earlier that day on another project. By the way, he had all of this stuff delivered, because he's not technically allowed back into the mall for a few more weeks.  There's a story with that, but I'll just tease it with what Dan told us when he got home that night.  He remarked, "Did you know that you can buy whips at the mall, but that they don't allow you to act out a chase scene with a guy in a morph suit, trying to train him with it, in that same mall ?"  We didn't know that.  Dan has taken to wearing costumes this summer too, and you never know how he'll appear to head out with his friends. It could be as a 1930's golfer, a Pirate is a personal favorite or lately it's just as Batman, who of course is the epitome of a Renaissance Man.  As a parent, this does keep you guessing.

     Lest you think Dan is one of the Renaissance Men who are only thinkers, I should remark that he has done
all these projects while holding down a full time job this summer.  He toils manually for 8-10 hours each day
Dan, the Pirate
and unwinds with these activities.  His favorite thing to do with his younger brother is to get onto Minecraft and help build imaginary worlds.  I tell him that it is redundant as he already lives in an imaginary world. I want to finish this up, but I can't go without telling you the story of the flying machine.  This time it was a trip to Lowe's (he's still allowed to go there) to get some tarp material and PVC that started up the adventure.  He has a close HS friend that he does a lot of this stuff with, for the purposes of this blog, I'll call him T.J.  What Dan likes about T.J. is, the only question that he ever asks, when Dan calls and proposes these adventures is ...When?   That's the kind of friend a Renaissance Man likes.  The flying machine was based off of an early drawing by Da Vinci and had Dan and T.J. done their homework, they would have realized it was a failed design, but if they had, they wouldn't have found themselves on a dirt road, with a skateboard, a Chevy Impala, a tow rope, and a crash helmet,  testing the design out.  For the record, there were fewer injuries that when Da Vinci tested his, and it was equally unsuccessful, but Renaissance Men have to be able to handle small setbacks. 

     I really have to finish the blog now, just like my Renaissance Man has to finish the last of this summer's
The remnants of the Flying Machine
projects.   The hard cider he is distilling still has to be bottled, the Portabella and Shitake mushrooms that he had started have to form and grow, the musical he is writing has to be finished, and the sequel to his film "Dan the Bastard" (view Part 1 here DTB Part 1) has to be edited and posted.  He ran out of time before he could implement his homemade zip line.  All in All though, it was a heck of a summer living with a Renaissance Man. I hope that I've given you a good feel for it, and like I said when I started, if I had to live through it, you should too. 
The Batmen


cdyarger said...

I feel the need to add to this blog. One day Dan came into the house carrying a briefcase and asked, "Do you know what this is?" I said "What?". He replied "My attache case!" "Oh" I said. He continued "Do you know what attache means in French?". I said "No, what?" He simply said "None of your business!" and left the house with said attache case! Then there was the day he came in dressed like a pirate, and when I asked him "Why are you dressed like a pirate?". He replied "Because I can!" and again, left the house this way! Finally, last week when he came in dressed as Batman, I had learned my lesson - I simply said "Hi Batman", and I left the house! It has been some summer here! I will miss my Danielson!!!

Krisada Eaton said...

Kudos to Batman a Pirate of a Renaissance Man for creatively discovering life and living it in so many ways. Special recognition should also be bestowed for not letting forbidden geographical boundaries keep him from his adventures.

Once again I find myself wanting to be a Yarger or at least a not-so-distant far east Asian cousin ;)

An enjoyable accounting of summer memories Bill... one very much worth chronicling. Thank you for sharing.

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