Category Archives: Family

Spring- Baby Showers

I may have mentioned it in passing once or twice before, but I’m not the biggest fan of baby showers. They are nothing but an excuse to get stressed out, spend ridiculous sums of money, and wind up hanging out with people who you shouldn’t really have to impress. We went through this all when Cream Soda was about to be born, but it seems that two-and-a-half years have erased the pain from our first attempt. The morning of the shower, I swore that I would stick to my guns and not participate in any way. My wife had learned her lesson from the parties which had come before, and had wanted to avoid the pitfalls of yet another get-together. But when I woke up, she was in the kitchen with our daughter, scrambling to help get a day’s worth of work done in just a handful of hours. I insisted that I wanted nothing to do with any of it, and took a shower, put on my suit, and then tried to blend into the background. I must not have looked busy enough, though, as I was soon dragooned into service. A ten-dollar bill was shoved into my hand, and I was sent off in search of two-liter sodas and six packages of tostadadas. Sure, it meant going to the grocery store in my one good suit, but on the other hand, it got me out of the apartment.

The whirlwind pace of food preparation continued with only minor breaks for bathing, and both my daughter and wife were still going strong well after the party was set to have begun. Our rides arrived a short while later, and it took all of us to load up everything which we were taking over. We had ribs, a pasta salad, a fancy regular salad with oranges and walnuts, a fettuccine alfredo with the one thing I fear more than whole milk: shrimp. There were also party favors and balloons, and a homemade lemonade. The six of us piled into our in-laws’ cars as nothing more than an afterthought. We were running at least an hour behind schedule, and we still had to set up everything at Lupe’s house. Fortunately, the drive was short. We started unloading the vehicles, and once everything had been brought inside, the ladies began the final touches on the party decorations. Nerdenn Events and I wanted to just stay out of the way, and help by not screwing anything up. To help us in our cause, Guillermo, brother-in-law to my sister-in-law, offered both me and my son-in-law a beer.

Pictured: Helping.
Pictured: Helping.

The place was still pretty empty, so Nerdenn and I managed to stay out of harm’s way while the women were running around, engaged in quality control. They were like a force of nature, and within a handful of minutes, the whole place looked ready to withstand an all-out assault of party-goers suffering from Baby Fever. The food was ready. The decorations were arranged. There was a nice little spot for the presents to begin piling up. The only thing we needed now was for the tide of people we’d been expecting to arrive.

You can see the fear of failing to host the perfect party in their eyes.
You can see the fear of failing to host the perfect party in their eyes.

Soon, the usual suspects began arriving (more family, and a friend not acquainted with the guest of honor/party girl), and it was decided that we’d eat if no one showed up in a little while. I was grateful for this, because I hadn’t had a bite to eat all day. I’d been saving myself for the ribs, which were, after a brief respite for transportation, back in the oven once again. In the meantime, we sat around in little groups and made small talk with one another, while drinking what appeared to be a never-ending supply of beer. Finally, we decided that we should just sit down to eat, so we grabbed our trays and served ourselves. I grabbed a little of the fettuccine, daring a shrimp or two, and was just about to resign myself to a life without my one true love (ribs), when a worthy opponent stepped up upon the stage. It turns out that Lupe had prepared some baked barbecue chicken, which I must admit, despite being against chicken in general, was juicy and delicious. I polished off two drumsticks (and my fettuccine), priding myself on the fact that I hadn’t spilled a single thing on my fancy white dress shirt. And then I was told the next batch was ready, and this batch was also made with habanero in the sauce. I whispered a silent apology to my shirt, and snagged a couple drumsticks more.

My reaction when told about the second batch of drumsticks, debating whether I was too stuffed to try them.
My reaction when told about the second batch of drumsticks, debating whether I was too stuffed to try them. I totally did.

That was the most delicious chicken I have ever eaten. I just want to make that clear. Spicy in all the right ways, with a salve of sweetness. It almost got rid of the flavor of the Tecate.

When it become obvious that no one else was coming, we got ready for the party games. I had assumed that the photographer would not be required to participate, but I would soon discover just how wrong I’d been. We started out with the “Diaper Game,” which involved smelling, and tasting, various substances which resembled newborn poop while blindfolded, and then guessing what it was that had been “sampled.”

This was mustard, as I recall.
This was mustard, as I recall.

The ladies took their turns first, while the room erupted in laughter at their discomfiture. Then it was time for the men. As a group, we were more daring, actually getting around to tasting these vile substances. When I was forced into playing, I wound up with the Mustard diaper, which I guessed immediately, and then went back to snapping pictures.

The moment of truth.
The moment of truth.

With that done, I thought I would be free, but there was yet another game involving blindfolds which we were “volunteered” to play. Mr. Events and I were sat down and blindfolded, as were our significant others, and we were spoon fed something which we were told to identify based only upon its rancid flavor. Wildflower shoved the spoon- upside down- into my mouth, spilling its noxious contents upon my beard and fancy white dress shirt, the same shirt I’d managed to keep clean in the face of barbecue. I described the flavor as peas and Satan, and screamed at my wife to quit jamming the spoon into my face. It turns out that I was close: the role of Satan was played by liquefied turkey. I haven’t eaten baby food for well over three decades, and after this experience, I’m not looking forward to my senior years. I now know why babies spit back out the majority of food spooned into their trusting mouths. Not to mention that even in their most perfect state, I cannot stand peas or turkey.

Then came the moment in the evening which I had been anxiously awaiting. The balloons were re-purposed, and shoved up under blouses, and the competition of the Baby Bump began. This time, it all appeared to be done in good spirit, and the ladies, with their inflated bellies, fell upon the guest of honor in giggles and camaraderie.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we men were just about finishing up with our sixth or seventh round of beer.

We still had some time to kill before my daughter was allowed to tear into her newly-acquired loot, so Guillermo put on some… type… of music, and the dancing officially began.

After that, it was just cake and presents, and the inevitable call for cleanup. I tried to argue that I was staying out of it, but my wife can be quite… persuasive… when she puts her mind to it. We got everything cleaned and packed away, thanked our hosts for the wonderful evening, and were driven back home. Both Wildflower and I were dead on our feet, and began to fade as soon as we crossed the threshold of our residence. The kids weren’t much further behind. We had survived another party, and maybe the stress of today would ensure that we wouldn’t have to face another for quite some time to come. We’ll see about that, though. Birthdays are coming up, and my granddaughter has yet to be born. I’d like to say that we had settled on small gatherings for family, as even the grandest of events wind up being just that, but mothers like to provide only the best for their children, so we’re not out of the woods quite yet.

We Will Always Party Hard

Sometimes I just need to psyche myself up before attending a baby shower. Like I’ve been saying, they’re not really in my wheelhouse. I mean, I have helped bring life into this world, but I’ve never been a human incubator, so I guess I’ve never felt like I really needed to be thrown a party. As a matter of fact, I’m not terribly all that into parties in the first place. I think that the only party which I’ve truly wanted to attend was one that never actually happened: For my thirty-fifth birthday, I wanted to rent a limo, and go out for a night on the town to celebrate my “Very Good Year”, but it all sort of just fell apart, and I wound up doing absolutely nothing, which to be fair, had been my backup all along. When in doubt, I always say, mope about the house.

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year. I moved out of my mom’s place and struck out on my own. I fell in love, and lost my virginity. I got to practice being a dad, write some tunes and my best short stories, start a business, and generally play at being an adult. It was one of the few times in my life when I can remember being so wholeheartedly happy. That, of course, would all begin to crumble within the next couple of years, but I didn’t know that then, and I honestly thought that it would last forever. Also that summer was soft, and we frequently hid from lights on the village green. And the Island was still kind of a small town…

When I was twenty-one, it wasn’t that great. I had a massive nervous breakdown, and spent a week in the hospital. I broke up with my girlfriend of the past few years. I moved from place to place, dating ladies so that I could have a couch to sleep upon. Eventually I wound up crashing in the woods behind the local Safeway. I did move to the city that year, however. My friends called me up at work, and rescued me at the end of summer. But really, the only thing that resembles the song is that, when I was twenty-one, “it came undone.”

So when my thirty-fifth birthday was approaching, I wanted to do better. I was happily married (as happily as a married man can be), so there was very little chance of hooking up with blue blooded girls of independent means, unless you could interpret it to mean that my wife had her own source of income and one slightly varicose vein. It wasn’t much, but it was all I had to work with. The only thing that was missing was the limousine. Plus, it would have been an excuse to get dressed up fancy and have a night out on the town, and I’d had to buy a suit when I’d attended my friend’s wedding just a couple of weeks before. Sadly, it was not meant to be. I guess there are still a little over seven months to make it happen, but as I’m broke, and my wife doesn’t go for that sort of tomfoolery. Maybe I’ll just put on the least crappy pair of jeans I own, and we’ll have a date night down at Weinerschnitzel. Yeah, that’ll go over well.

In just a little while, everyone else will begin waking up. I had the fortune to be woken by my son, who rose before the dawn. That’s like the third or fourth night in a row that I’ve managed to wrangle less than six hours of sleep. At least I’ll have a fog about me (mental- I’ll be hopping in the shower as soon as I feel up to it) to protect my fragile psyche from the abuses of the dreaded Party Games. If I was going to be smart about it, I’d take a shower now, while everyone else is sleeping. No pounding upon doors, no waiting for my turn. Ten minutes in the bathroom is all I really need (there are benefits to being bald), and then the only thing which I would have to concern myself regarding, would be herding the Minkey toward his fancy party clothing after using a moist towelette to scrub his face and neck. But that would mean admitting that it was time to finally start doing productive things today, and I don’t know if I am ready to face that.

What I would like to do, more than anything, is to just curl back up in bed, and take a nap until the adrenaline of being late launches me forward like a juggernaut. This plan has some obvious merit. First and foremost, it means that I get to go back to sleep again. And secondly, by the time I’ve fully woken up again, I’ll have already arrived at the party, and been taking pictures for at least an hour. By then, the alcohol will have been flowing freely, and I can drown down my self-awareness with the help of my old my old friend, Tecate. That’s something that I always love about these get togethers: no matter what the occasion, there always seems to be almost enough beer to make it all a little more bearable.

So I’ll go and snap some photos, and drink a brew or five, and then before I know it, we can all go home. If I can get a good night’s sleep tonight, I’ll praise the mattress gods. I remember that this lack of sleep was one of the reasons why I quit my job. Of course, my commute is much shorter now, and it costs me significantly less.

Okay, it’s time to start getting it together. Just a few hours left before the festivities begin. If I time it just right, I can be in the shower or getting dressed when the rolling meltdowns begin.

Here’s to babies! And here’s to the people who incubate them, sacrificing form and figure to feed their unborn child!

Note to self: remember not to shave. You know the reasons why...
Note to self: remember not to shave. You know the reasons why…

Reflections On Grandfatherhood

I’m going to be a grandpa once again. All family politics and volkswagening popes aside, I’m pretty stoked about this. For the past two years, I’ve gotten to enjoy the benefits of grandfatherhood without having had to wait for my son to come of age. And I can see what my own grandparents were talking about when they were saying how much better it was, in comparison to parenthood. With David, I am constantly stressed out, as I know that I am responsible for making sure he turns out more or less okay. But with my precious little Cream Soda, all the pressure goes away, and I can just enjoy him for who he is, and sneak him ice pops on the side. I get to interact with him in a way that I never could with David, free of the burden which parenting provides. For my grandson, I’m the guy who spins you around, takes you outside, and listens to your ramblings. And it is because of this that I have begun to try a little harder with my son. It’s hard sometimes, because he is so smart. I find myself forgetting that he’s still a little boy. And it’s been so long since I was one, that I’ve lost my frame of reference.

Cream Soda is also the brother whom David would otherwise never have. After the Minkey was born, both Flor and I decided that we were out. She had a matching set, and a twelve pound baby tends to spook any mother. And then our grandson came into being. For the first time, we could just enjoy a baby. There were no dirty diapers for us to change, no breast pumps and mangled nipples to endure, no trying desperately to sleep around a miniature tyrant’s schedule. We got to have him when he was at his most precious. Needless to say, David was not impressed. He went from being the center of attention (not all of it pleasant), to standing on the sidelines while everyone went endlessly on about his newborn nephew. And from what he could see, there wasn’t anything terribly impressive about the little poop machine. Now the same fate is about to befall my little grandson.

David's expression upon meeting his nephew for the first time. He wasn't all that terribly impressed.
David’s expression upon meeting his nephew for the first time. He wasn’t all that terribly impressed.

Since he’s been mobile, every deference has been made to him. Any time he erupts in tears, it’s always David’s fault, even if he wasn’t anywhere near his nephew. Like a fútbol star, my grandson knows just how to work it for the refs. And while I tend toward the role of disciplinarian in regards to my monkey man, I am usually quick to come to his defense when the aroma of injustice, like a dirty diaper, comes wafting in my way. Sure, there are times when David can be an asshole, but that’s true of everyone. I call him out when he’s done wrong, but at the same time, I will defend my son if he is not at fault. There are also times when toddlers can be absolute little shits, and it’s obvious that they know exactly what they’re doing. Sometimes kids just fall, or get upset, and there’s nobody one can blame. Toddlers are constantly testing out the boundaries of their physical abilities as well as the social tolerances of their parents. But my grandson’s days in the light of guaranteed innocence have come almost to their end.

Like his uncle before him, Cream Soda will see himself knocked out of his family’s spotlight in favor of a usurper. She will be small, and cry a lot, and demand constant attention. Though his parents have not yet admitted it to themselves, A&W will no longer be an agent with free rein. The first time that he makes his baby sister cry, or throws a temper tantrum over absolutely nothing, he will see a side of his parents that, up until this point, only his uncle has ever seen. He isn’t used to being wrong, and gets away with almost everything. And it’s exactly because of this, that I’m glad he’s got his uncle to fall back on. David has been through all of this, and yet still loves his nephew more than anything or anyone (outside of when his mommy isn’t grumpy). They will keep one another company in the shadows of little Jenny’s radiance, which is good, because we will all be completely transfixed on the new addition to our family.

Actually, I think that this will be good for the three of us: myself, Cream Soda, and the Minkey. My wife and daughter will be fawning over Jenny, like only mother and grandmothers can, and Nerdenn Events will be sucked in as well, doing what he can to help my daughter rustle up a moment or two of sleep. And honestly, I’m really not all that interested in tiny, newborn babies. I mean, sure, I’ll hold them, but they are altogether too fragile to for one to truly enjoy. That, and they don’t really do anything interesting in the first couple of months, at least not that I can really help with. My nipples are for decoration only, and I don’t change diapers anymore. And someone will need to dedicate themselves to being there for our little boys. I suppose that means that I may have to change my grandson’s diaper, but at least that’s easier than dealing with a baby girl. With boys, it’s a fairly simple process: wipe affected areas and re-wrap before being peed upon. With girls there are rules, like front to back, and so many places where it could all just go so terribly, terribly wrong. Better, in my opinion, to leave that sort of thing to the professionals. And hopefully, A&W will be one of the potty-training superstars who gets it right away, and throws off the tyranny of diapers with a shout of independence. One can only hope.

So even though we’ll be packed in like Reader Digests in a hoarder’s hallway closet, I’m kind of looking forward to it. I was the Only Child of a Single Mom, and the closest things I had to siblings were my best friend who lived just up the hill, and second cousins who I really couldn’t stand. Eventually the kids will leave, and we’ll have some breathing room, but for now I get to be a live-in Grandpa, and I have to say that it feels pretty swell to me. To be honest, I prefer the company of children, as they are just insane enough to be really kind of fun, much like my friends in times long gone, under the influence of hallucinogens. Summer is coming up, and that means no more school to fret over, and increased opportunities to go playing in the park. Maybe I’ll set aside a day or two to take the boys out for some fun. I’m sure that we could use it, and will need it soon enough.

But now I realize that I’ve written all these words, having been inspired by my granddaughter-to-be, and yet barely mentioned anything about her, except as a comic foil. The fact is that I cannot wait to meet her, and breathe in that new baby smell. I want to tell her how much her Grandpa loves her, and watch her grow up before my eyes. I want to help her throw off gender stereotypes, and be all that she can be, to help teach her to demand the equality which she absolutely deserves. She’ll have other people to teach her how to do the “girly” things, and a father to intimidate her future boyfriends. I want to be the one whom she can count on to always tell it to her like it is, the one to encourage silly dreams if they make her happy. Grandfatherhood isn’t about crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, it’s about helping your grandchildren find their voice amidst uncertainty and arbitrary rules. At least, that’s what I always got from the both of mine. Even though I haven’t met her, I already know how much I love her, and I look forward to the day when she first spits up on me to say hello.

Force Of Will

I will write something funny today.

will write something funny today.

will write something funny today.

Like I’ve said before, trying to be funny is a lot harder than it looks, especially when all you really want is to just curl back up and go to sleep. But I know that if I don’t try to do something to crack a grin, I’ll wind up being mopey for the rest of the week, and I’m going to need all of chuckle buffer available to me if I’m going to make it through this weekend. Note to self: Chuckle Buffer is a good name for something. Just days from now, we’re having a dual celebration in honor of my daughter’s birthday, and the impending arrival into this world of my granddaughter. Just think, I get to be a grandpa to a little princess! I’m not too worried about the birthday aspect, as the “Quarter Century” joke doesn’t ever seem to lose its luster, but the baby shower will involve lots of in-law relatives and work acquaintances of my wife. I always feel so out-of-place at these types of events, and I’m not just referring to the baby shower. Birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, Thanksgiving… Even when I go to parties with my friends, I’m usually that dude that hangs out on the patio and drinks his drink and smokes cigarettes all night, until it’s finally time to go. I used to get out of it by mixing poisons like a pro, but I don’t think my wife would be too happy if I tossed my cookies in someone else’s living room. To be fair, I don’t think she wants me tossing cookies in anybody’s living room, but at least at home we have the chance to clean it up before anyone else might see. And by “we”, I mean my wife, who seems unnaturally obsessed with not having vomit stains on furniture.

I mean, they all seem like nice enough people, but it can be a little overwhelming when everyone is speaking rapid-fire Spanish, and I have to pay attention to it all in case my name is called. I mean, it’s not like Spanish class, when I knew enough to goof around, and made it clear that I was only there for my own amusement. Here, I have to worry about all the things that everybody else does, when dealing when people not necessarily of their own choosing, but with the added strain of translating everything within my head all night. Normally, my answer to the anxiety brought on by these events is to down a steady stream of beer, but that just makes me slip into my Scottish brogue, and then my Spanish is all garbled. Okay, full disclosure: it’s not actually that bad. The beer is usually the Mexican equivalent of P.B.R., and I’m comfortable enough with my second tongue that even when I’m inebriated, I don’t do all that bad. It’s just that it’s hard enough to pull off “interested” in my native tongue. I’m bad enough with people whom I barely know, that to throw in a cultural divide and foreign language means I spend the evening in state of terror.

And baby showers are the worst (I say, having only attended the shower for my grandson). My wife and daughter know what’s going on, and have it under their control, and though I really don’t want to get involved, sometimes I think that it would beat the hell out of milling around for hours trying to look just busy enough that no one asks me to move furniture or put up decorations.

Pictured: Me not helping.
Pictured: Me not helping.

I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing, or a gender thing, or just something about myself, but I’m not really interested in a party for a fetus. Call me pragmatic or spoil sport, or what have you, but I think that it would make more sense to have the party after that child’s been born. That way, everyone knows the size of baby things which are needed and the new mother gets to show off her little bundle of adorable to anyone caught in the blast radius. In the moment that my son was born, he outgrew everything which he’d been given. I know that everyone believes that newborn clothes are unbearably precious, but not every baby is born that itty-bitty. And in this family, they tend towards the massive. I mean, my son was weighed in at just under twelve pounds, when all the goo’d been cleared, and as I recall, my grandson, though not nearly as gigantic, was still born above the average weight. I could be wrong, though. It was a long night, and I had to leave at one point to go and pick up pizza.

And now I’m trying to remember if we had a shower for the Minkey. I know that we had tons of stuff to give away when we brought him home from the hospital, but… I don’t know. That was almost eight years ago, and I can barely hold on to what’s gone on over the past five minutes. I guess I never really thought of baby showers as all that big of a deal. Maybe it’s just because I never got invited when I was man of fewer years, but these parties seem ridiculous at best, and at their worst, more closely resemble a Royal Rumble of passive aggressive sniping.

The humor of a baby bump without impending pelvic assault.
The humor of a baby bump without the impending pelvic assault.

Then there are the photographs. It’s been almost two and a half years since the last one of these which I attended, and it wasn’t until this month that I finally got around to posting the photos on my Flickr page. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I actually enjoy this job. It allows me roam about and look like I am working while not having to really talk to anybody I don’t want to. The only issue I’ve run into is when it comes time to open presents. I know that people put a lot of thought into what they purchased for the baby (or in the snarky gifts aimed directly at the expecting mom), but they make for lousy photographs. Out of maybe fifty shots, there might be one which I can use. Yet even knowing this, I still have my Nikon shooting rapid-fire, documenting everything just in case we want to see it later. Will I bring along my camera this time? Probably. I’m not the type to pass up the chance to avoid having to talk to people.


The Disenchanted Kingdom

I’ve been working on a couple of other posts, and they don’t seem to be getting anywhere today. One of them seems too frivolous, and the other far too serious. I’m sort of going through a period of apathy. It’s probably a swing to the depressive, if I’m being honest, as my temper has grown shorter, and the laughter has grown quiet. The majority of my conversations are held up my grunts and shrugs, and, while rather noncommittal, have been viewed of late as aggressive and rude. When I express my apathy, I’m not trying to start a fight. Rather, I’m merely trying to inform anyone who might come near me that I’ve run completely out of fucks to give. This is the hardest part of me for my wife to understand. On the outside I seem no different from before, aside from a deeper frown and lack of self-care. But there are no open wounds for her bandage, nor broken bones for her to set; my pain resides within me, and there’s no easy fix. I’m tempted to say that she has given up, and written me off while looking forward to the day when she might rid herself of me and my entourage of nonsense. The fact is that she gets frustrated at her inability to help, or even predict my swirling moods from one moment to the next. I know that I am stubborn, and an impossible man to be around when I get this way, and it is only because of her overly generous nature that we have endured so many years with one another.

These are the days when I want to run away, when the responsibilities seem overwhelming, and I feel that I am drowning beneath the onslaught of my failures. It is during these periods that I think that maybe I’m not cut out to be the man who I once hoped I’d be. That maybe everyone would wind up better off if I just put them out of my misery. If I were to simply fade into the night, leaving an apology for all my sins upon the nightstand where my Wildflower would see it in the morning, I feel that I might spare the ones I love from the monster which lurks inside me. I’m not patient, and my kindness comes and goes. I love my family, but sometimes feel burdened by affection. I always seem to go after the happy things which once sustained me, and if I stay, that only puts them at risk. To clarify: I’m not talking about violence of a physical nature, but the way my psyche twists itself to poison and sharpen the words that I fling out in all directions. It takes so much effort to keep up this facade of sanity, that I fear the day is coming when the wires inside me snap, and I fly apart like a supernova. There is nothing which I want more than to find a way to disappear, find a way to end it all, and rest, at last, in peace. Reign forever in my Disenchanted Kingdom.

2866779705_0357d27d1c_bSo I stay. I stay because I know that if I left I would be dead. I know myself too well to think I’d leave open any avenues by which I might survive. I know that if I can just hold on a little longer, this darkness which has wrapped itself about me will begin to weaken and then fall away. Any time I talk to someone about how I’m feeling, they always tell me that I have to stick around to see my son grow up. Of course, in the moment, this only irritates me more: Just another heap of pressure piled up upon me. But it’s true. The reasons why I’ve stuck around are counted on a couple of fingers. I do want to see my son grow up, and my grandson as well. And now I’m due to meet a granddaughter. I think about the years ahead, stretching out in front of me, pushing me further back with every birth. I want to see them, and to know them, and I want to be remembered, but some days I think it might be better to pass off into legend. I could be the family’s epic cautionary tale. Make sure to see a doctor, so you don’t wind up like Grampa Batmart.

I’m torn.

I grew up without a dad, and I know just how that feels (though I never knew the pain of losing one I knew). But I am so afraid of crushing David beneath my bitterness, that there are times I think the only answer is to rid him of me entirely. It will hurt now, but someday he will understand. He will understand, won’t he? That I sacrificed myself to save him from the pain? Or would he lay the blame upon himself, and spend his life trying to figure out what he did wrong? It’s so confusing right now inside my head. It seems that every part of me is whispering that the safest course of action is one that cannot be undone. But I’ve also learned that these desires are the same I’ve always known. The same parts of me that will not rest until I have permanently done so. I get angry sometimes that I’ve got people around me who love me. They make it so that I cannot simply fade away. They bind me to them with their open hearts and scorching love, and make me feel as if I’m spinning, spinning, spinning.

This is the real battle. Even now, I know how to free myself from all the pain. Words to utter, and in which tone, to drive them all away. Make them leave me so that I can finally get it done. I’m not sure if my hesitation is an act of bravery or cowardice. In these times it’s hard to tell if I’m doing more harm by staying. I’m so used to knowing everything, that it’s almost impossible to push that all aside, and rely on the clearer thinking of my wife. I’ve had so many bad experiences that it’s been hard to trust her, been hurt so many times that it’s difficult to make myself believe that she’s not just out to do the same. But we’ve got nine years together, so something must be working. I chose her in a moment of clarity (though why she chose me is beyond me), someone unlike the women I’d been chasing after. Someone who might want something besides my blood. Even if I can’t trust anyone right now, I guess I’ll have to believe that I once knew what I was doing.

The shadow seems to have passed, at least momentarily. I guess I made the right decision. This is something that I must confront anew every time it falls upon me, and it seems to learn from past defeats, as nothing I’ve done in the past seems to have any effect.

Thank you for bearing with me on this journey through the darkness. I swear that I’ll write something a little funnier next time. Or at least die trying.

A Three Hour Tour

I woke up Friday morning in time to take my son and his friend to school, and got back in a hurry to wait for my nephew to arrive. We’d made a quick trip the night before to the nearest MetroPCS store to pick up a SIM card so he could have a working phone while he was here, but we’d arrived twelve minutes too late. The plan for the day was to head out there when it was open, get him set up, and then head off to San Francisco to see all the sights. It turns out he’s gotten here before we’d left, but saw the door the closed (and detected no signs of life), so he went ahead and took care of the phone issue himself. When he got back to the apartment, it was almost nine, and I was just finishing up the post for the day, as I didn’t know when I’d get another chance to write, and didn’t want to take off that many days. He waited patiently in the living room for the next twenty minutes, watching whatever channel the kids had left it on before we went to school, while I tried to finish up. And then my Comcast service went out. I’d written a bunch since the last time that I’d saved, so I couldn’t even post my blog from the app on my phone. I told him what the situation was, and he’d said that he’d sort of figured something was up when the television screen went dark. I caught a break when service was restored just a couple of minutes later, allowing me to publish what I’d written and turn the laptop off. I’m glad that I’d been mostly done, as within a couple of minutes of having posted it, everything went out once more. I viewed this as a sign that it was time to go, and packed up my backpack with my camera and tour supplies, and we headed out the door, beginning a journey that would take around six miles (9.66 km) to complete.

We braved the AC Transit once again, surviving a half-full bus ride until we got back to El Cerrito del Norte BART. We checked our tickets, and then entered the station and took the escalator up to wait for the next San Francisco train. Fortunately, it was only a few minutes. We filed into the front car, and found our seats, relieved to be off our feet for this part of the journey. Less than an hour later, we made it to the Powell St. station, my old home away from home. We were both a little hungry, so we dropped in on my old coworkers at Blondie’s Pizza to grab something quick to eat. I would have liked to spend more time catching up with everyone, but they were understaffed, and the lunch crowd was beginning to trickle in. I said my goodbyes, and my nephew and I began in earnest our tour of the city. We walked up to Union Square, where I pointed out the painted hearts and all the photographs and paintings on display. Then we hung out in the shade beneath a palm tree to smoke a cigarette and figure out the game plan for the rest of our tourist-type day.

Wise words indeed, Master Yoda.
Wise words indeed, Master Yoda.

At that point, he realized that his phone was acting up, so we decided to kill a couple of birds, and walked to the Westfield San Francisco Centre. On the way, I got a shot of him with a cable car, just before we scrapped entirely the idea of getting out to Pier 39 that way (the line was far longer than my patience).

Not pictured: The line from Hell.
Not pictured: The line from Hell.

Once inside the mall, we meandered up and down the half-dozen or so stories, glancing in at stores and appreciating the architecture. Well, was doing that. Unai was on the phone with MetroPCS, asking why his telephone suddenly had exactly none of the unlimited data which he had bought that morning. Up and down we walked, soaking in the ambiance and fending off customer service. We got to the street level when the service rep finally figured out what was going on. Just a quick reset, and power off for a little bit, and everything should be back to working order. In the meantime, we hit a couple of stores which he wanted to check out, but came away empty-handed when we discovered that the things which he had wanted weren’t all that popular in San Francisco. Shopping done, we started walking down Market toward Embarcadero. My nephew wanted me to show him all the sights, and I knew just where to go for an introductory experience: Fisherman’s Wharf. We had to make a couple of stops, but we finally arrived at the Embarcadero.

Anyone have the time?
Anyone have the time?

It was getting warmer out, and I didn’t want to spook him with how long a walk still lay in front of us, so I just told him to focus on the numbering of the piers, and that when we hit number 39, we’d be where we were going. Of course, what tourist excursion is complete without some photographs? It also helped us to take a pause and find some shade, so stone some birds we did.

I told him this wasn't the famous bridge, but the one that everybody uses.
I told him this wasn’t the famous bridge, but the one that everybody uses.

We walked a little more, when I caught sight of something which I’d wanted to point out to him. As we walked around the side of an all-too-familiar building, I pointed out where his aunt and I had spent our third anniversary:

It's that boat in the back.
It’s that boat in the back.

We were getting closer, and started to look for somewhere to duck in from the afternoon heat, and get something to drink, and maybe sit awhile. Although we passed a handful of serviceable cantinas, we decided to keep going until we hit Pier 39. It took longer than I’d remembered, but the numbers kept on climbing, and soon our destination was in sight. We navigated through the throng of people with nothing better to do than spend a Friday afternoon inside a tourist trap, and made our way back to a place I remembered having gone to with Flor and all the kids: Players. We sat down at the bar, thrilled to finally be off our feet, and ordered the most delicious beer which we could think of. A few minutes later, two of these arrived:

Delicious AND Nutritious!

We also ordered basket of garlic fries and some hot wings, and just spent an hour talking about nothing, and enjoying our time together. After we had eaten and settled the tab, we stepped back out into the afternoon to find that there was now a breeze. Our legs were tired, but the walk back wasn’t nearly as bad the one we’d had coming out. I briefly considered taking us back up to Union Square, but one look at the time told me that would be an ill-advised adventure. It was coming up on Commuter Hour, and if we weren’t careful, we’d wind up as sardines in the Rush Hour crowd back home. We entered the Embarcadero BART station, and made our way to the back part of the platform. Looking at my cell phone, I decided that now was as good a time as any to show Unai another survival tip.

We boarded the Dublin train, which was packed to the point of moderate discomfort, and then exited at Lake Merritt to catch a Richmond train in which we might actually find a seat. With that, my training of my nephew was complete, and he told me that he now felt confident to make his way on his own the next time he came to visit. Having finally cooled off from the morning tour, of course car we entered was the one without air conditioning. We broke another sweat, but at least we sat in comfort, our legs no longer required for anything more taxing than a rest upon the edge of the seat. We talked again about how he was liking his visit here, and what he thought of San Francisco. All time leading up to his visit, I had worried that I would be stuck with someone who just didn’t get me, but in my newly met nephew I had not only found a decent man, but someone who I could call a friend. The train pulled into the del Norte station, and we gave thanks to the breeze which flowed over us upon our exit from the sauna car.

This time, when the bus pulled up, Unai knew just what to do, and despite being close to Pope/Volkswagen hour for the buses, we managed to score a couple of seats on this ride as well. We got off at the bus stop, and walked the half mile home, where my wife was waiting for us with dinner and an Advil. All in all, we walked around six miles that day, and though I felt some pain that evening, it was nothing compared to the agony of the following morning.

I’ve decided that I will miss my nephew when he goes, and I cannot wait until the next time, when I get to meet his son.

Travel: Welcome To The U.S.

I had arrived two minutes early to meet my nephew at SFO, only to discover that his flight was now running almost forty minutes late. I did the math in my head, and figured that, with baggage claims and customs, I would likely not be meeting up with him for at least another hour. At that point, I went outside and smoked a cigarette, and tried to decide if I was hungry enough to pay airport prices for something quick to eat. I was not. I put out my smoke, and wandered around the airport, trying to figure out where exactly it was that I was supposed to meet him. There didn’t seem to be anywhere that looked even remotely like where I was supposed to go. On my sixth lap of the lobby, I finally noticed some escalators off to the side, and figured since I still had plenty of time, I could afford a little exploration. I rode it down, and discovered the place that I’d been looking for. I checked the screens to see which of the exits he was most likely to wind up using, and then camped myself in front of it. After a while, I thought that it might have been a smart move to bring some paper and a pen to make a little sign, as my nephew and I had never met before, but quickly filed that line of thought away as it wasn’t particularly helpful at that moment.

12:37 came and went, and the screens still reported that the plane hadn’t even landed yet. I began jonesing for another smoke, but decided against it. Knowing my luck, they’d have landed, gotten through customs, and my nephew would be walking all around the airport (without cell service) trying to find me in the eight minutes it would have taken to get back to the designated smoking area, do my thing, and then get back to where I was supposed to be. Instead, I watched flight after flight of Koreans and Indians exit the customs gate, and was constantly bumped, nudged, and forced to move out of the way of people who did not know how to get out of the way while figuring out their next move. I pounded another Red Bull which I’d stashed in my backpack, and suddenly realized that I had no idea where to find the nearest restroom. Just then, the screen changed the status of the flight for which I had been waiting to “In Customs,” which meant that I would have to stick around, as he would be walking out of that hallway any time between right then and who knew when. I looked for a nearby seat to plop myself down upon, but the massive influx of travelers had taken that option away from me as well. I queued up behind the limo drivers with their fancy signs and tablets, and looked down at the only photo I had of this nephew whom I’d never met.

I was just about to give up when I saw someone in a fancy jacket walk into view. He looked vaguely familiar, though I was sure I’d never met him, and for a moment I felt really racist when I thought maybe all Mexicans looked the same. He walked around the roped off barrier, and then locked eyes with me again. I was almost sure that this was my nephew. He walked toward me, and I asked, “Unai?” At almost the same time, he asked if I was [Tex], and we both shared that awkward chuckle of two people meeting for the first time. I noticed he was coughing, and we both thought that he was a little parched from breathing in recycled air for the duration of his flight. I offered him my last can of Red Bull, which he pounded like a pro, and then we went off in search of a SIM card for his phone. There was a little kiosk about a hundred yards behind us, so we went to check out what nonsensical prices they were charging. The cheapest offer for what he needed was $80 for eight days, only four of which he would be needing. We decided that we could do better (and he had to grab a bottle of water), so we rode the escalator back upstairs and found the nearest shop so that he could finally be gouged in America.

He offered to buy me drink to replace the one I’d offered him, but I took a look at the price and politely declined. I wasn’t about to let him pay $6 for a twelve ounce can of Red Bull. Unai bought his water, and we walked outside so that I could smoke a cigarette. He bummed one off of me (six hours of travel will build up quite the desire), and we talked about his flight while calming the nicotine beasts inside of us. He got a security guard to take a picture of us (which, sadly, I do not possess), and then I whipped out my trusty Nikon and got one of him.

BTW, that bottle of water cost $3.29
BTW, that bottle of water cost $3.29


When our nerves were finally calmed, I led him to the BART, got him set up with his ticket, and got us onto the train. I’d been told that he’d wanted to be shown around San Francisco, but he told me that he’d rather just drop off his oversized luggage, and save the trip for another day. But I was able to show him how to transfer when we switched to the Richmond line (in case he wanted to do a little exploring on his own) at the very next station, and then spent the remainder of the ride trading stories with him. I’d been nervous that I’d be stuck with someone whom I was not allowed to ditch, and that I’d have to be nice to him, or my wife would never forgive me. As it turned out, I had a blast, and was glad that I had been able to go and meet him the airport. We got off at El Cerrito del Norte, picked up a couple of bottles of cider from Safeway, and I introduced my nephew to the AC Transit.

A short while later, we arrived in Not Quite Richmond, and make a quick detour to a different market to pick up a couple of two liter sodas. We were loaded with beverages, and the sun was beating down as we finally entered the home stretch of our journey. We got to the apartment less than ten minutes later, where Unai was practically tackled by his aunt, who hadn’t seen him for the past eleven years. Once he was settled, Flor served us all some dinner, and sat and chatted like a family until the sun the went down. Well, almost.

We did make a quick side trip to the MetroPCS store, but I’ll save that for the next post. We finished up that evening, and my sister-in-law drove my nephew back to their apartment, which had been pre-designated as his place of residence while he was visiting this time. We made plans to meet up in the morning, and I went right to sleep. After watching a couple of hours of M*A*S*H.


Odds and Ends: Updates and Errata

I’m sorry that I haven’t been around for the past couple of days. Wednesday wound up being Laundry Day, and my wife was on a grand tour of Bay Area picket lines, so it wound up being an all-day affair. I could have tried to keep up with them so that it wouldn’t take a full day to wash everything, but where’s the fun in that? I started in on the laundry at about 10:30 in the morning, and we finally finished drying and folding the last load a little after 8 o’clock that night. Somewhere in the middle of all of that mind-numbing fun, I had to take my son to his appointment, which ate up at least two hours. By the time my wife and I were done for the day, we kind of just shuffled into bed, as the elderly are wont to do, and I prepared myself for the massive commute that would be Thursday morning. My nephew was flying in from Mexico, and since I am the only one who isn’t making money, I was volunteered to go and meet him at the airport. That’s not to say I didn’t want to go- public transportation and retrieving people is sort of my thing- just that I was the natural candidate.

After taking David and his friend to school yesterday, I gimped back to the apartment, and assembled all the random crap one might need for an all-day excursion into Tourist Country. I’d been told that my nephew had wanted a tour of The City, so in addition to my Kindle and my iPod (to make the commute more bearable), I also schlepped my fancy Nikon along as well. I figured that if we were going to check out awesome places, I might as well get some fancy pictures of them. I left the house around 9:30 a.m. to catch the bus at quarter ’til. The flight wasn’t supposed to arrive until noon, but I tend to get a little nervous when I’ve got to get somewhere that’s so far away. I mean, it’s only a 68 minute ride on BART, but going from one end of the line to the other can rack up delays, and the last thing that I wanted to happen was for me to be stuck in the light rail system while my nephew was milling about in SFO, without a phone, trying to figure out how we were going to meet up. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but that airport is rather large, and it would be so amazingly easy to never find another person if the two of you were wandering around looking for one another, unable to even shoot off a text message to agree upon a landmark where you could meet up.

Two stations before I was set to transfer to the SFO line, my phone began blowing up with texts and emails from BART Operations (I’d signed up for alerts nearly six years before, when the BART workers were set to strike in ’09. They reached an agreement then, but four years later, made good on their promises. I love the BART, and it is integral to the workday for most Bay Area residents (I was going to say Areans, but it just didn’t feel reich), but the work stoppage pretty much paralyzed the entire region, and did as more to fuel their opponents than their supporters. tl;dr: I signed up for alerts and then never got around to cancelling them) saying that there was a massive delay emerging due to a major emergency at Civic Center. I was starting to get nervous, as that was between where I was, and where I needed to go, and there wasn’t really a better option (which I could afford) to get me there if BART went down. I took one earbud out so that I could listen to announcements, and discovered that they were stopping all trains two stops before Civic Center (in either direction). When my train pulled into Montgomery, I exited, and began investigating just what in the hell was going on.

It turns out that someone decided to jump in front of a train. This seems to be happening more frequently, and I’m not sure what, exactly was the tipping point, though I would probably put money on the lack of rain and scorching temperature. My son-in-law, Nerdenn Events, suggested that we put up Suicide Posters of the Golden Gate down in the SF BART stations, as that way our commutes wouldn’t be affected. Let me just say, as someone who has put a lot of thought into how I might like to snuff out my own light, I actually didn’t mind. We came up with some amusing slogans like, “They’re the final moments of your life. Why not choose the Scenic Route?”, and “It’s okay to end your pain, but please don’t punish us.” This may seem callous and cold-hearted, but the fact is that sometimes you just have to make a joke in the face of tragedy so that you can keep your sanity. Also, I’m pretty sure that you can get Road Rage from riding on BART when the trains are packed, and then are forced out of services due to station closures. By the way, I would totally keep the poster for the “Scenic Route” hanging  on my bedroom wall.

After forty minutes of uncertainty, they finally opened up the system to limited service. I hopped on the first airport train, and prayed (in an atheistic fashion) that I would get there on time. Years of being hours early prepared me for this day. I walked up to the airport with two minutes to spare. Figuring that I had some time before my nephew would be out of customs (not to mention all of the delays that come with domestic flights), I found the designated area, and smoked myself a cigarette. Let me go on record as saying that it was better than a post-coital smoke. Having overcome overwhelming odds to not only get to where I had to go, but two minutes early! That’s the kind of satisfaction that primal instincts can never hope to replicate. That, and I didn’t risk pulling a hammy. When I got inside, I saw that his flight had been bumped to 12:40, and sighed, suddenly irritated that I had defied the odds and gods to get here on time, only to be told that I could have slept in a little. As it turns out, these forces of shenaningry were not done with me…


Spring Break Has Finally Broken

I wasn’t sure that I would make it this time; another nine days with my son always at my side is quite a stretch of time. It’s not that I don’t love him, just that we need a little break from one another before things go too far. His sense of humor is a little twisted, and his idea of comic timing involves repeating himself over and over until I make a token acknowledgment of what he’s said, never pausing to take even a single breath. It’s not so bad in the afternoon, when I’ve had a chance to raise my shields, but as a wake-up call at seven in the morning, it’s something I can live without. During his time off, I never seem to manage to get myself to sleep before two o’clock in the morning, and, as long as he doesn’t have to go to school, he’s up in time to greet the dawn. At least we’ll be getting back to something of a more normalized arrangement this evening. And tomorrow, I have no doubt that I’ll be up with a cold shiver of dread at being late, and he will slumber like the dead. Maybe I should give him a taste of his own comedy, just to see how funny he thinks it is when it’s aimed at him. The problem is that I would most likely punch myself, as I just don’t have that kind of nonsense in me anymore, despite what he says about my jokes.

Today, he had the nerve to tell me that my jokes were “lame”, and that I, myself, was a “Lame-o”. I have no idea what he’s talking about; I gave him comedy gold. For all of you who are wondering about just how lame my jokes are, here’s exactly how it all went down:

Me: Why did the veterinarian give a lozenge to the pony?

David: I don’t know. What’s a lozenge?

Me: It’s like a cough drop.

David: Oh, okay. What’s a cough drop?

Me: Something you take when you have a sore throat… and a cough.

David: Okay. I don’t know.

Me: Fine. He gave the pony a lozenge because he was a little horse.

David: (erupts in laughter) What’s a veterinarian?

Me: (facepalm) Okay… A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks, “Why the long face?”

David: Why are you telling me jokes about horses?

Me: Get it? (mimes extension of face) A long face…

David: Are you done?

Me: One more. Ready?

David: (groans) Whatever, Dad.

Me: Okay. Three men walk into a bar. The fourth man ducks.

David: I don’t get it.

Me: You know, three men walk into something, and then the next guys doesn’t.

David: What’s a bar?

Me: Well, in this case, it seems like I’m talking about a tavern, but the joke is that it’s really like a pipe, or tube.

David: I still don’t get it. Your jokes are lame, Dad. You’re a Lame-o.

Me: Okay, tell me one then.

David: Knock knock.

Me: Who’s there?

David: Orange.

Me: Orange who?

David: Orange you glad I didn’t- Wait! Wait! Knock knock.

Me: (groans) Who’s there?

David: Doctor.

Me: Doctor Who?

David: (erupts in laughter)

Progress and Equality in the 21st Century? Ha!
He’s been laughing at his own jokes for years.

While I appreciate his ability to recover, and approve of his nerdy references, I am not a Lame-o. I mean, whose go-to joke for comedic superiority is of the knock-knock variety? Although, to be fair, at least he can nail those. Most of the time. I will give him credit for trying. I just wish he was a little funnier. I don’t know. Once in a while he manages to make me chuckle, usually when he’s in trouble with his mother. And then we both manage to get in trouble for his shenanigans. And I know that he’s just trying to make me laugh as a way to win my approval. I just wish that he didn’t try so hard. I find him funniest when he’s not overdoing it. Then again, I myself have been known to beat a punchline to its death. It’s probably just something that he’ll eventually grow out of. And hey- maybe he will be able to pick up on social clues someday, and know when to bail out on a joke when it’s obviously bombing. Then again, he is my son, so probably not. I guess I’ll just have to give him a master class in sarcasm and dry, British wit when he comes of age.

I don’t know what I’ll do with all the time that I’ll be left with when I’ve dropped him off at school. Probably laundry, come to think of it. And then a rousing game of “make the apartment presentable for company.” Our nephew is flying in from Mexico this Thursday, and my wife wants to make sure that he doesn’t see what two full families living in a two-bedroom apartment actually looks like. And it is Spring, so I guess it’s time for a good cleaning. I just hope he doesn’t wonder why the throw rug is so lumpy. And at eye level. It shouldn’t be too bad, though. I’m going to meet him out at SFO, and then take him on a tour of the city. That means that between now and then, I actually have to look up where the Irish Bank is located, and build up the courage to face Pier 39 again. At least lunch is not issue. One of the benefits of knowing people who work in restaurants is that I can usually get a decent deal on food.

And this weekend, I think that the whole merry lot of us are going to be super touristy and hit up Alcatraz. I’ve already been, but Wildflower and David have not. We’ll have to see how it all goes, but I think we’re going to have a fair amount of fun this week. I just hope that David doesn’t try telling any jokes.

Yes. Quite amusing...
Yes. Quite amusing…


Water Wings

“Sometimes I just like to express myself in tears.”

-David William, 4/10/15

And, other times, he is... less profound.
And, other times, he is… less profound.

There are times when I am amazed by just how mature my son can be, on the rare occasions when it doesn’t interfere with his childishness. He has such a way with words sometimes that I find myself wondering just how he’s managed it in such a short amount of time. He’s almost eight years old, and yet he casually tosses out profundity without a second thought. I suppose it could be something in his genes, as I tend to do the same, or it could be that I’ve never spoken to him as though he were anything less than an adult. There are times when that hasn’t worked out so well, and I have to be reminded that he’s still a little boy, but his vocabulary is fantastic and he’s capable of reasoning which I’ve been told is significantly above his age group. Most of the time, he’s just this little kid, obsessed with playing Xbox, and vegging out in front of his cartoons. And yet… Like I said, there are times when he just lays some truth down on me, and I cannot help but think that maybe I am doing something right, and that I might be pretty lucky to have been able to be part of his life.

I’m just hoping that I manage not to screw him up too badly by the time I’m done with him. I’ve got just one decade left to try to help him to discover who he is, and what it means to be that man. And really, considering how close his teen years are, I’ve probably got less than that. I don’t want to turn him into a carbon copy of myself, as I’ve learned the hard way, living with my daughter, but I’d like to pass along some of the lessons which I’ve managed to learn over these past three and a half decades. It’s too early to get into comparative philosophies, but I’ve been focusing for the past couple of years on teaching him how to think. I figure that he’ll be flipping through beliefs like the pages of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue soon enough, and at that point, the only influence which I’ll have on upon him will be to present a target to which he can focus his rebellion. Knowing that those days are coming make me preemptively weepy, but I’m hoping that by laying some groundwork now, I can minimize the damage in the years to come.

I’m glad he’s not reading over my shoulder right now, as I don’t want him to know just how impressed I am with him. I know that sounds a little weird, but please, hear me out. I tell him every day just how much I love him, and every time he knocks it out of the park, I make sure to let him know just how good of job he’s doing. But I don’t want him to get too full of himself, and think that can do no wrong. The best lessons I ever had were those which I managed to salvage from the burning wreckage of my failures. I never learned anything by getting it right the first time. That’s not to say that I’m not capable of doing it right the first time, just that it’s not really a learning experience. And now, whenever I learn something new, I’m more interested in the Whys than Hows.  The only downside to that is that no one really wants to teach me anymore, on account of the unending stream of questions pouring out from between my beard. I guess that I just want David to have to always think that he could do a little better, because that will always be the truth.

Now, I’m not saying that I want to be the type of dad who never gives his son approval. I just don’t want him to get so hung up doing a victory dance that loses sight of the bigger picture. There is always more to learn, more to see, more experiences under the sun (and moon) than can be checked off of any list in a single afternoon. Of course, if I’m not careful, I’ll drive him to try to touch the sun, and water wings are even less effective than those crafted lovingly from wax.

Pictured: without either
Pictured: without either

Not that he’s ever used water wings, however. No, he’s not a natural swimmer, we just can’t get him anywhere near a pool. He’s terrified of water, except for little puddles that splash safely around in. Hell, when we give him a bath, we have to debate just how important it actually is to get the shampoo out of his hair. I don’t know why he’s so worried all the time about the smallest things. That’s probably genetic, too. I don’t suppose that I’m really in all that great of a position to be mocking someone for their anxieties. I mean, despite my intelligence and unbearable awesomeness, it is still a major battle to pick up a phone and call someone I don’t know. To be completely honest, even phone calls to people with whom I share D.N.A. or, at the very least, a deep friendship, aren’t all that much easier. I mean, I only really call the man who I once considered my best friend if I happen to be in the same area code, on the way to meet up with him- and we live hundreds of miles apart. Even our text messages are few and far between, as I’m even nervous about simply wasting his time.

I hope that David William won’t ever have to deal with that. It’s one thing to be afraid of dogs, and cats, and water deeper than a couple of inches, but it’s another monster entirely to be afraid of other people. So far, he’s just like his mother, in that regard. He has no problem walking up to someone and demanding that they be his friend, although his rate of success is nothing to write home about. I guess what I like it is that it never occurs to him that he might fail. Now, when he does homework, or tries something new, I’ve seen him paralyzed by all of the What If’s regarding failure, but when it comes to other people, there’s no thought in his mind other than wanting to share a moment with another human being. Maybe I’ll wind up learning something from him, after all. I mean, the odds are that at least one of us has got to be a decent teacher.