23 march 1999  

out more

A smartass jokey comment I make probably too often is, "You need to get out more." It can come in handy as an icebreaker at parties, but I never go to parties (maybe because I’m known as that guy who’s always saying "you need to get out more"), so I guess I’m guilty of not taking my own advice.

I would get out, but it’s a time thing. And a childcare thing. And if I go on about this, after about five seconds it becomes a whining thing. So I’ll be patient. Yeah, sure, patient, that’s me all over.grrrr

Like the acrophobe who took up rock-climbing, the choice I made to be an at-home dad put me face-to-face with my struggle for composure. To raise a child is to grasp the fabric of each day sweetly and firmly in one’s fists and wring out every last ounce of patience with a Herculean twist - only to watch it drip onto your shoes. To be fair to my daughter, we’re in a nice happy place these days which, I have no doubt, is the calm before the teenage years transform her into Hurricane Amy, so I’m building my berms of equanimity now. I expect landfall in about six years. Disaster preparedness; it’s all the rage, you know.

For example, the page one photo in the paper this morning was of local firefighters extracting an accident victim from a car that had wrapped itself around a telephone pole. Well, actually, the car didn’t wrap itself, it was supposedly put there by the driver, but that’s not true either. It was placed there by the fire department in order to demonstrate, on a more visceral level, the effects of a drunk driving collision.

Such drills are common around the country this time of year as students are getting their first whiffs of graduation. The suggestion is "be prepared, you young people, to face the internal battle between desire and reason", but in keeping with their vocabulary the point is made better in blood-stained glass.

Mock disasters can be effective, especially for the participants, and it’s not hard to put these demonstrations into the category of "a good thing". So I may appropriate this routine and stage some mock domestic disasters of my own to show Amy the perils of getting on mommy and daddy's bad side.

The "What It’s Like For Your Mother And Me When You Show Up At 2:00AM" disaster drill. It involves a silent telephone, venetian blinds, and a big vein in my forehead. Method acting.

The "If Brittany Jumped Off A Cliff…" demo. One bridge. Two life-size dummies. Ketchup.

The "Why You Still Need A Babysitter" demonstration complete with scary movie and loose shutters. Somewhere a dog will be hired to bark.

The "If We Buy A Car For You, Then We Have To Buy A Car For Everyone" sales pitch.

Yup. I think there’s something to this. Best to start early.

If Amy lives up to her genetic predisposition it won’t be long before she sits me down and gives me a little disaster drill of her own: the "Remember The Menendez Brothers" demo.

And she’ll be right. I do need to get out more.

today's music:

"Good Intentions" -- Lyle Lovett -- LYLE LOVETT AND HIS LARGE BAND


today's wisdom:

"You have to have a lot of patience to learn patience."

- Stanislaw J. Lec