1. KANGAROO WEAR. Sometimes I carry a lot more gear than my pants have pockets for — not just the standards of keys, wallet and cell phone, but also prescription sunglasses, the current book that I might be reading, and an old iPod now that my iPhone storage has all been used up (amazing how quickly 16 gigabytes goes, isn’t it?) I have not yet found the perfect solution for transporting all this equipment “on my person” — though the search is critical given how costly it is to replace most of those items. My wife bought me a man purse, which I felt confidently metrosexual enough to try for a while, but it felt too cumbersome and too susceptible to the same risk we’ve faced with my wife’s (leaving it on the back of a restaurant chair). On a recent Saturday, when my family planned to head off for a day trip to Newport, Rhode Island, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant, multi-pocket solution — cargo pants and a fanny pack. But when my fashion-conscious oldest saw me in that get up, she was aghast and told me, “Dad, if you leave the house looking like that, I refuse to be seen with you.” Of course, I didn’t heed that warning. So that afternoon as we strolled the shops on Thames Street, she kept 10 paces behind me, which spared me from hearing requests like, “Dad, can I have 10 bucks to get one of those specialty cupcakes?” or “Dad, can I have 20 bucks because I just saw the most amazing earrings in that shop window?” So, all in all, donning my fashionista-repellent wear worked out perfectly for one of us.
2. UNWINNABLE CASE. You should recognize it’s time to throw in the towel when you get worked up trying to convince your kids you really were cool once.
3. BAD GUESS. Normally, I rely on my foodie wife’s expertise in all matters culinary. But my daughters and I were left to our own devices one evening this past summer, when my wife was off with friends, and we headed to a restaurant on our own. We were lead to a table with an outdoor patio overlooking a nearby pond. At the center of the table was a small plate with the bottom half of a lime sporting a circular arrangement of cloves. My kids asked what that was for, and since it was right next to the basket of bread they’d served us, I hazarded a guess that it was a dip. The three of us happily soaked slices of the bread with the lime juice and ate up. A new flavor combination for us, for sure. But then patrons at a neighboring table – clearly smarter than we – asked a waiter about the lime/clove concoction. He told them, “It’s a mosquito repellent.” My daughters immediately screeched, “Eeww,” but I didn’t feel the urge to gag, because, honestly, the lime-juice soaked bread didn’t taste all that bad. But sadly for me, my daughters, while ruing their mother’s absence, vowed they’d never trust my food “insights” again.
4. TONGUES OF THE SLIP. I’ve always had a propensity for spoonerisms, and age seems to be increasing the frequency with which my brain experiences that particular short circuit. One of my guy friends, when we’re playing poker, makes great fun of my asking him if he’d like to deck the cut. Fortunately, my wife never teases me when I make these slip-ups. If I ask her if she’d like to dog the walk, she just tells me she’d love to and reaches for the leash. It’s no wonder that I, unlike the dog, always side by her stay!
5. FINANCIAL PRIORITIES STRAIGHT. This is an exact transcript of a conversation between my two daughters when my oldest noticed her little sister was scratching her head with a novelty-shop bought, octopus-looking contraption that had little plastic balls at the end of its wiry tentacles: OLDEST DAUGHTER: “Why would you waste your own money buying something that stupid?” YOUNGEST: “I didn’t use my money, I used mom’s.” OLDEST: “Oh, okay, that makes sense.” I didn’t know whether to be offended by their lack of appreciation for how hard their parents work for their money, or impressed that they understand the value of a dollar (as long as it’s their own!). For sanity’s sake, I decided to go with the latter.