There is something inherently fun about driving golf carts.  I’m not sure what it is.  Studies should be launched and focus groups assembled to determine what mystical quality these electrical vehicles possess.

One summer in high school, I worked at our town’s country club pro shop.  I set up tee times, sold merchandise and wore polo shirts with khaki shorts.  It was pretty easy.  Luckily, my complete lack of knowledge regarding the sport didn’t hinder my ability to dodge golf balls while cleaning up the driving range.  While I did get to drive golf carts for the job, it was only to bring them out of the storage shed and line them up for the golfers.  It was entirely too short of a drive.

I wanted to drive the beverage cart around like my coworker DAY NINETY-ONE.  I wasn’t jealous of the tips she made because, let’s face it, I wouldn’t have made the same tips in her position.  However, I was jealous of the fact that part of her job was driving a golf cart.  Who wouldn’t want a sweet summer gig like that?  So.jealous.  It’s probably for the best though.  I would have had too much fun recklessly delivering alcohol to golfers at breakneck speeds of 10 mph.

Posted by: Andrew | April 1, 2010

day ninety: toot your own horn!

Occasionally I like to pepper into conversation that I won 1st place in my 4th grade UIL Poetry competition.  At the time, it was a big deal for me.  With the passing of time, it’s…well…only slightly diminished in impressiveness.  Sure it’s intentionally humorous when I mention the award, but why shouldn’t I still be proud of myself and my poetry coach DAY NINETY?!  We worked hard.  Below is my Facebook status thread from last year where I stand up for dated accomplishments and everyone joins in with their rightful gloating as well!

Andrew Phifer is usually advised to let go of the past when he mentions his first place UIL Poetry award in the 4th grade for his dramatic reading of “The Spider and the Fly.”  He has news for you: you’re going to have to pry that accomplishment out of his cold, dead hands.

Mark:  Can we set up a re-enactment?

Kim:  i still tell people that i won the spelling bee in the 5th grade.  i’m proud of your accomplishments.

Danielle:  Will you please do a re-enactment?  Um, we asked twice, so now you have to.

Donny:  And I’m asking thrice…so do it!  Also I’m still going to brag till my last breath how I qualified for 8 out of 11 events at the state EDA contest in 8th grade.  And I won 8 out of 8 superior trophies.  Thank you very much!

Danielle: I won the daughters of the American Revolution Award in 5th grade.  Also, my mom says I’m awesome.

Chance:  I won honorable mention at the Science Fair in the 8th Grade, and my experiment was a total sham that I threw together last minute…I love my erosion experiment, twas fierce…

Me:  kim, donny, dani, i’m proud of all of your accomplishments too!  everyone feel free to tout your accomplishments that people would have you hide!  p.s.: the jury’s still out on my re-enactment.

Chance:  ouch! No shout out for my grrrrrrroundbreaking experiement?

Me:  we commented at the same time – proud of your shining moment too!

Rachel:  i can admit that i have happily accepted and enjoyed applause from my students when i’ve told them i won first place for impromptu speaking, monologue, and dictionary skills when i was in middle school.  i maybe even took a bow…>_____>

Sara:  don’t you let anyone make you feel guilty because you’e been awesome since the 4th grade!

Katie:  i have witnessed the partial re-enactment.  glorious.  also, second place 7th grade dictionary skills.  how can a category like that last beyond elementary school?

Robin:  amazing, truly amazing.  i expect to see this award soon.

Allen:  Ah, the glory days at Jville Intermediate.  Well done, bro.

Sara:  i am soo happy someone else did dictionary skills!  i’ve been trying to explain how great my alphabetizing skills are due to that event and everyone doubts me.  fools.

Desiree:  lmao…

Tad:  was the fifth best speller in the entire county in sixth grade and I do still brag about that to this day!!  It remains my greatest accomplishment!!  That’s either really sad or really awesome depending on your perspective!!!

Jen:  Okay, A) geez, I love you so hard.  B) if you do have a re-enactment, I would ike to join you with my 5th grade Quest year-long writing project, a comedy of errors entitled “T-O-D-D Spells Trouble.”

Bruce:  When one has lived the dream, how does one return to reality?

Katie:  hahahha @ bruce!  it’s true, sara!

Lisa:  all i’m saying is we were robbed of a berth at state in OAP in 2001 ;)

This is a safe space.  A place to brag without worry.  What accomplishments are you proud of?!

I love reading.  I even enjoy most required reading as long as there is a group discussion of ideas and opinions.  However, I’m not a fan of required reading that serves no purpose other than making sure you read.

When I was in sixth grade, a new program was instituted called Accelerated Reader.  This program required students to read books and take a twenty question multiple choice test to earn points for that book.  You could choose any books to read, but the higher reading level books were worth more points.  The more points you had at the end of a six-week period determined a portion of your English grade.  DAY EIGHTY-NINE was our librarian who was always so helpful in finding us just the right book(s) that would not only earn us enough points but would also be interesting to the individual.

One might say that I should have read War & Peace and been done with my AR points for that six-weeks.  To that person I say, “Pssh.”  Whether it was just because I didn’t like being forced to read books for standardized tests or whether I enjoyed finding a way around the system, I chose the quantity over quality method.  I decided to quickly read easy books and get my required AR points completed that way.  My books of choice were The Hardy Boys.  They were quick reads and had enough predictable suspense to keep things amusing.  There was also enough of them to ensure a full year’s worth of AR points.  Everything was fine with The Hardy Boys.  There wasn’t a problem.

There wasn’t a problem until I rocked the boat by incorporating the children’s series Hank the Cowdog.  Though I can’t be sure that it was the use of the lower level Hank the Cowdog books that spawned the change, we started having stricter rules about what reading level was acceptable for Accelerated Reader.  Apparently, books 3 grade levels beneath you did not qualify.  Though I know the new rules benefitted us, I stand by the Hank the Cowdog series.  I found striking political parallels between our two-party system and the ongoing Hank v. Pete the Barncat rivalry.

Posted by: Andrew | March 31, 2010

day eighty-eight: second verse, same as the first

Anyone who took Spanish as a foreign language in high school no doubt had to learn the countries and their capitals.  How you learned them is probably more varied.  I, for one, learned the capitals from a self-described rap song that, though lacking in pop chart success, sticks with you long after you complete your Latin America geography test.  DAY EIGHTY-EIGHT was the teacher who taught me this ditty.  I’m curious to know whether others learned it this way as well.

It was a cheesy song for sure.  However, in all honesty, I really liked the song.  It was just ridiculous enough to be amusing and do its job of drilling the country/capital associations into your head.  For example, I will never forget that the Dominican Republic’s capital is Santo Domingo.  In fact, it was my favorite verse.  (Verse?)  Skip to the 6:00 mark to discover its wonder.  For some reason, the Central American countries were much more interesting than the South American countries.  Their country/capital pairing was inherently more musical.

WARNING: Viewing video may cause mental song loop & extensive knowledge of Latin American capitals.

Posted by: Andrew | March 29, 2010

day eighty-seven: donuts, coffee and buried hatchets


DAY EIGHTY-FOUR responded that he has known many gay individuals throughout his life and has learned that though orientations may differ, there is really no difference between us.

DAY EIGHTY-FIVE was supportive and echoed DAY EIGHTY-FOUR’s sentiment by saying that a person should be judged based on their character and not their sexual orientation.

-Finally, in a YouKnowAGay first, DAY EIGHTY-SIX emailed me before I could email him!  Let me explain…

Much like in DAY FOURTEEN, sometimes things slip my mind.  After all, there are lots of plates in the air with this project: Writing the person, blogging about it and responding to any replies.  Often times when sitting down to complete a day, I will think of who I am going to write, blog about that person and then email them.  Since I finished yesterday’s blog extremely late last night, I, in a sleepy haze, forgot the critical step of actually writing to DAY EIGHTY-SIX!  I intended on writing him when I got back home from work today, but he emailed me about my YouKnowAGay project before I could contact him.

How is that even possible barring a rift in the space/time continuum, you ask?  Well, I guess I forgot to include that DAY EIGHTY-SIX is DAY EIGHTY-FIVE’s son.  Therefore, DAY EIGHTY-SIX heard about my project and took the initiative to write saying that his family supports me and to hold my head up if someone gives me flack.  That’s a good & proactive friend.


Driver’s Ed is a magical time in a young person’s life.  It’s the period of time where you hone your invisible driving skills as you maneuver the embarrassing “STUDENT DRIVER” car that the rest of traffic dreads.

After two weeks of classroom instruction, we had to sign-up to complete the vehicle operation portion in pairs.  Unfortunately, I was late in signing up and received THE worst time slot available.  6am.  How are you expected to skillfully drive at 6am?  DAY EIGHTY-SEVEN was the other unlucky individual who got to the sign-up sheet too late and was stuck with the twilight time slot.  He was also my kindergarten bully.  Now DAY EIGHTY-SEVEN hadn’t been trouble for years, but that didn’t mean we really spoke to each other.  We just didn’t have anything in common and there was nothing to say.

Another important character in this story was our driving instructor – let’s call him Frank.  The other two driving instructors for our Driver’s Ed class actually made students drive around the city testing their knowledge of traffic signs, parallel parking and other driving tidbits.  Frank, however, liked his donut shop.  Since it was 6am, he made one of us drive to the donut shop every morning where he would sit and have coffee with the rest of the 6am crowd before having the other one of us drive us back to the school.  DAY EIGHTY-SEVEN and I did not eat with the rest of the 6am crowd – we sat at a table by ourselves.  Yes, it was as awkward as it sounds.  However, after a few days passed and sugar glaze built up in our systems, we actually started having pleasant conversations.  We weren’t looking to be best friends, but we did manage to find some common ground.

Frank finally tested us on the necessary driving skills in the last few days of class and DAY EIGHTY-SEVEN and I both passed with flying colors.  We were just sad that there wasn’t a “Drive from the school to the donut shop” task.  We could have done that one blindfolded.

Posted by: Andrew | March 28, 2010

day eighty-six: one last hurrah

For my birthdays growing up, my friends and I would always have an overnight campout at our deer lease called Deadwater.  We never hunted.  We just cooked and played card games and drove four wheelers.  In fact, I have never hunted ever.  When my dad took me to our deer lease as a kid, he was just looking at a deer through the scope of an unloaded rifle and I screamed for him to not kill Bambi!

My five friends and I always had a blast at Deadwater.  There was game after competitive game of capture the flag. There were the homemade burgers and fries my dad made for us every year.  There was the time we almost successfully moved someone’s cot (with sleeping someone in tow) outside of the cabin in the middle of the night – that’s what you get for going to sleep!  There were the ridiculous games of truth or dare.  There were numerous rounds of the card game Killer.  There were endless annual traditions, none of which involved the cots and sleeping bags we brought since we always stayed up all night.  My friends and I carried on this tradition for seven years up until we graduated high school.  I remember it was sad leaving Deadwater our last year knowing that it was the end of such a fun chapter.

When I returned home from college for my birthday weekend my freshman year, I was tired because of a particularly busy week.  My mom suggested that I go take a nap before my birthday dinner, but I told her I was fine.  Being particularly forceful about the subject, my mom was finally able to make me heed her advice and lie down for a bit.  Some time later, I was violently jarred awake by my five friends shaking my mattress.  That’s what I get for going to sleep.  It took me a while to process what was happening in my post-nap stupor.  Though each of my friends had gone in different directions after graduation, my parents had contacted each of them and organized another Deadwater weekend.  To this day, it is one of the nicest things that anyone has ever been done for me.

DAY EIGHTY-SIX is the last of my Deadwater friends who does not know or who I have not already contacted during this project.

Posted by: Andrew | March 28, 2010

day eighty-five: hey, mister arnstein, here she is

Mom & Me is a Scouting tradition where young Cub Scouts spend a weekend in the woods with their mothers experiencing all that mother nature has to offer.  You also experience what your actual mother has to offer as well.

If I had to guess, I would say I was 8 years old for my first Mom & Me.  My mom borrowed a GIANT tent for us to stay in – so big that it had a front porch separate from the sleeping area.  This decadent front porch had net walls so that you could lounge while experiencing nature from a protected distance.  Capitalizing on the lavishness of the tent, my mom made a “Tara” sign that was prominently displayed above the entrance.  We invited and entertained guests with a snack stash that promised our camp site would never be hungry again.

Unfortunately for us, our Mom & Me took place during the height of Texas Monsoon season.  It rained the.entire.weekend.  During the first night, my mom didn’t sleep because somehow daddy long leg spiders were taking refuge in our tent and she was protecting herself and an equally frightened (though unconscious and unaware) 8-year-old.  Actual Mother: 1, Mother Nature: 0.  Once light dawned on Saturday during a temporary break in the rain, one mother threw her soggy tent in the trunk of her Mercedes and called an early end to their outdoor adventure.  The rest of the moms and sons gathered on our front porch where we snacked, talked and played games.  DAY EIGHTY-FIVE was one of those mothers who stuck it out and had a great time (or at least pretended she did for all of us).  I remember she had one of those great laughs.  You know those laughs that make you chuckle whether you heard the joke or not?  Not even the rain could rain on her parade.

Posted by: Andrew | March 28, 2010

day eighty-four: out of sight, out of bullying


DAY SEVENTY-FIVE bent her own rules when replying to my letter.  She said that she rarely receives letters that stir her to respond so quickly but that mine was one of those letters.  She hopes that her “conduct (& votes) continue to reflect love, understanding, acceptance & equality for all.”

In an instance of bending my own self-imposed rules for this project, I have decided to respond to DAY SEVENTY-FIVE and let her know about my project now.  I plan on informing my recipients about the blog after my 100th day so they can know what their words have meant to myself and others, but much like DAY SEVENTY-FIVE, I was stirred to act more quickly in this instance.

-DAY EIGHTY-THREE said it was wonderful to hear from me after such a long time.  She was very supportive, but said that she worries about her close friends and family who are gay because life is not kind to those who are “different” since many refuse to acknowledge that our sexuality is with us from birth.  What a lovely light she gives!


Speaking of safety, I only had two bullies in my school career and one of them was during the fifth grade.  Many routes were taken to try to curb his behavior, but it finally took moving him across the hall to DAY EIGHTY-FOUR’s classroom to end the cycle.  DAY EIGHTY-FOUR was someone I already knew from church and was aware of why the move occurred.  Though he was a good and fair teacher, I like to think that he made the ’94-’95 school year just a little bit more difficult for that turd.

Posted by: Andrew | March 25, 2010

day eighty-three: ebb.

DAY EIGHTY-TWO thanked me for sharing my story with her and informed me that she has known many close friends and family members who were gay.  She shared with me their difficult journeys and how she loved them dearly.  Just as I had shared information that she did not know, DAY EIGHTY-TWO said, so too had she shared unknown information with me.

She is absolutely right.  Though this project was primarily about sharing a part of myself with others, it has also proven to be a way to get a glimpse into the lives of the people I contact.


Don’t get me wrong – I have loved every minute of this blog and its surprises and lessons and burned bridges and renewed connections.  It’s really wonderful.  However, it is late and I am tired.  Candle burning at both ends tired.  After a long day, it’s sometimes hard to muster up the strength to contact someone and write a blog.  I remember this sentiment from fellow 100 Dayers as they were nearing the end of their journeys.  I’m at least glad I’m following the natural ebb and flow of this challenge.

DAY EIGHTY-THREE was my speech teacher in high school whose favorite poem was Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “First Fig” :

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends-

It gives a lovely light.

She would often quote this poem if we were busy in class, she saw a sleepy student or whenever the mood struck her.  Let’s hope I’m a friend and not a foe.

DAY SEVENTY-NINE thanked me for my email and caught me up speed on what is going on in his life.  He was very nice and said that he thinks putting a face on the issue of equality is a smart move.


In high school, I was good in math but I always had to work hard to make the grades – it didn’t come naturally like some of my numerically inclined friends.  DAY EIGHTY-TWO was one of my math teachers who was really nice.  That doesn’t mean she also didn’t nicely strong-arm me into taking the Advanced Placement exam.  AP Exams are standardized tests that can count as college credit depending on what score your college or university will accept.  While I knew that I could make a passing grade if I dedicated myself to studying, I felt that I would not be able to meet the score my college demanded.  Therefore, I kindly declined and said that I was going to focus my efforts on other AP exams.

DAY EIGHTY-TWO spent a great deal of time convincing me to take the test because the more students that pass the test, the better it looks for the school (which I totally understand).  She was also kind enough to say that she believed I could make a high enough score for my college.  Because I’m generally a non-confrontational person, I tried to avoid any discussion about whether I was taking the AP Exam.  Knowing that I had not fully committed yet, DAY EIGHTY-TWO surprised our class one Friday day by showing the inspirational and Oscar-nominated Stand and Deliver.  Touché, DAY EIGHTY-TWO.  Touché.  This movie dramatizes the true story of an inner-city math teacher who struggles to get his students to pass the very same test that I was ignoring.  In the end, Edward James Olmos convinced me that I could do it.  Sneaky.

Since I agreed to take the exam, I was able to cut my classes one day to attend an all day AP Exam cram session.  An all day math extravaganza may not sound appealing to a high school senior except for the the fact that DAY EIGHTY-TWO brought this amazingly tasty snack.  She made two pans of the most delicious lemon squares you have ever tasted in your life.  There were other thoughtful goodies to munch on as well, but the winner was the lemon squares.  They were Edward James Olmos inspirational.

While I worked my butt off and passed, I unfortunately didn’t score high enough to collect college credit.  Who needs college credit though when you have those lemon squares?  Totally worth it.

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