Month / January 2015

Collage of video stills.

1. RANDOM CULTURAL REFERENCE GENERATOR. When I’m riding in the car with my youngest, I never know what pop culture reference will suddenly enter her mind and send her into a fit of laughter. On a recent drive, within the space of 10 minutes, I heard her shout out, “Dee Dee, what are you doing in my la-bor-a-tory?” in the exaggerated, formal tone of Dexter from the cartoon series, Dexter’s Laboratory. A minute later, when we passed a former International House of Pancakes restaurant that now housed another business, she declared, “Nice try, IHOP,” in imitation of a College Humor video that features an actor from The Wire pretending to expose the scam behind the restaurant chain disguising its distinctive, gable-roofed buildings as anything but a pancake house. Minutes later, she began singing a snippet from a Vine video in which a little girl hilariously misinterprets the line from a Frank Ocean song, “a potato [apparently, it’s supposed to be a tornado] flew around my room before you came.” While I didn’t get any of these references until she explained them to me, I must say it was still a highly enjoyable ride. Being with her when she gets in one of these silly streaks is a bit like keeping company with a Magic Eight Ball. You never know want funny line you might get next, but each of them is curiously entertaining.

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Father bundles up in winter, daughter wears summer clothes.

1. NOT SO TOUGH. My daughters and I have decidedly different responses to single-digit temperatures. They leave the house with whole patches of skin exposed to the elements, while I wrap myself from head to toe in double layers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not as tough as they are, or just a whole lost wiser. For my ego’s sake, I’ll go with wiser.

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Collage of man and dog resemblance.

1. PET TWIN. I know it’s a common observation that people look like their pets, but it was still a shock to me when my daughters saw a recent picture my wife had taken of our dog and said, “That looks just like Dad!” Of course I don’t see any resemblance between my physiognomy and a Yorkshire Terrier’s, but I am a little worried that others might draw the same conclusion my daughters did. At 54, I’m too settled with my looks to consider any extreme makeovers that might make me appear less canine-like, but I have made one important change. I no longer complain about the expense when my wife takes our dog to a professional groomer. I am suddenly very invested in making sure our little Yorkie always looks his best.

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Blogger with actors from Grumpy Old Men

1. TWO ROADS DIVERGING. As I proceed further into middle age, I now realize there are two paths you can take. The first is to remain young at heart and not resent the habits and tastes of the younger generations behind you as they gradually take over the world. My wife certainly seems to be traveling down this road. While others my age often complain about the young being so distracted by social media and their smartphones, they don’t know how to have real, look-you-in-the eye human interactions, she thinks it’s wonderful that technology has created new ways to connect that she believes don’t replace, but rather supplement, old forms of communicating. Of course, the other path one can take is to gradually transform into a crank, constantly lamenting about how far modern times fall short of the good old days. Yes, when I insist my oldest daughter has to turn off that “horrible” rap music she listens to or I wonder why some beautiful young person would cover their skin with tattoos, I realize I’m traveling on the path to grumpy old man-dom. I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be able to overhaul my opinions to the point that I could consider the “music” created by a rapper like Childish Gambino equal to the brilliance of Neil Young or Van Morrison, and as someone who grew up on George Carlin and Richard Pryor, I’ll probably never be able to muster more than a snarky, disapproving chuckle at the “humor” of YouTube sensations like Jake and Amir. But to avoid the risks of being perceived as nothing more than a disgruntled geezer, I have decided that when talking to my children I will no longer start sentences with phrases like, “In my day…” or “You kids today…” Baby steps.

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Family sharing a dessert.

1. SHORT RESOLUTIONS. Okay, one of my New Year’s resolutions is already broken. To work on getting my body mass index into the healthily fit and not just acceptable range, I had vowed to cut out all desserts. But last night, my family and I shared a slice of tiramisu at an Italian restaurant. I suppose I could kid myself into believing that eating just a quarter of a dessert doesn’t constitute a real breaking of a vow. But rather than cling to any false victory, I will take full pride in this year’s honestly gained achievement. I went a full 42 hours before breaking a resolution. So for me 2015 sets a record for determination and self-discipline that I’ve never reached before!

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