Monthly Archives: June 2014

Sparklers

Sparklers

sparkler
He taught me how to read people’s eyes.

My Dad always told me to know your audience, read their eyes, before you say anything. That way, you can make those small adjustments and hit a home run with your words.

It’s a skill I have now, but one that I was sorely lacking when I first met her.

We were running around the yard, sparklers in hand, I was trying to hide the sheer joy of the sputtering lights behind the mask of male pubescent cool.

I was all skinny legs and knobby knees, hiding my singular eyebrow behind a curtain of dark bangs. Slouched shoulders and awkward gait.

She was all bright eyes, shining cheeks and blinding braces.

She was my Mom’s friend’s daughter and we met while on one of those forced multi-family events that I found excruciating. The assumption that because the parents connected, so should their children, was nothing short of insulting. Plus, the parents usually connected over alcohol and a shared desire to ignore their kids, if only for a couple of hours.

But this time, there was Kari.

I stood in agony as I tried to come up with something to say. A quip. A joke. Anything that might get her to take notice of me. To recognize that her soul mate was standing right in front of her.

But my thoughts keep turning in on themselves like one of those weird Escher paintings we learned about in art class.

So, I study from behind my safe mantle of hair. I watch. I take note of her every move, the sound of her voice, her laugh as if I am a scientist observing a new species of exotic bird.

I could win her over with comedy. I was fairly funny. Or, that’s what all my idiot friends always told me. I ponder this for a moment. The only jokes I know are riddled with body functions and genitalia references. I deduce that this would not be the right approach and quickly move to another angle.

I could go the observational route. I turn over some options. The weather? It was unusually humid out.

Who am I? My Grandfather? Am I going to talk about my arthritis next?

There was always the complimentary approach. I did like the pants she was wearing. And she had a nice clip in her hair.

Potentially creepy.

I finally decide to go with the classics – ask her about herself. Keep it simple.

I take several very deep breaths to try to quiet the nest of butterflies in my stomach.

I pat my bangs down a bit more to ensure my safety net is there in case this does not go down well. In my mind, I can become invisible behind them upon command.

I take one hesitant step forward….

…as she comes running up to me, a little winded, eyes bright and face flushed.

“So, what school do you go to?”

I brush my bangs out of my eyes as my heart bursts into a million points of light, just like the sparkler she is holding.

__________________________________________

This is my response to this week’s speakeasy,
over at yeah write, where we had to make some
reference to M. C. Escher’s lithograph, Waterfall,
and use the sentence “He taught me how to read
people’s eyes
.” as the first line in our piece.

Click the badge to read the other submissions or to learn more about
the speakeasy creative writing challenge.

Fear And Loathing In Fatherhood

Fear And Loathing In Fatherhood

Fatherhood.

I know less about fatherhood than I know about….well….motherhood. And I know next to nothing about motherhood.

Don’t tell my kids.

But, it’s Father’s Day so it seems that something needs to be said about those stalwart men out there.  These co-creators of our offspring who, despite conflicting DNA urges to run screaming from the village encampment, are now expected to bond, relate, nurture and practically breast feed the little darlings.

So here’s to the dudes out there who are trying really hard to pony up in this brave new world of fatherhood.

I’ve actually pondered (because that’s what I do…ponder) how much the role of father has changed and how quickly.

Now, I’m no spring chicken (and I’ve never understood what that meant anyway) but it seems to me there has been a pretty drastic change in the expectations put on dads since I was, well, a spring chicken.

Why, back in my day, fathers were rarely seen and often heard. And if you heard one, you ran away and hid because you were in a world of trouble.

Dads were put on earth to teach you things.

See, son, this is the peritoneum….

See, son, this is the peritoneum….

Important things, like:

  • The difference between a flat-head and Phillips screw driver
  • How to tie a solid knot
  • The correct way to gut a fish
  • The exceptionally high cost of water because Jesus Christ how long can it take to wash your privates and get the hell out???
  • If you’re a boy, having the MOST UNCOMFORTABLE AND POTENTIALLY LIFE-ALTERING discussion about sex in the history of discussions about sex or anything else for that matter
  • If you’re a girl, absolutely no discussion about anything. Ever. EVER. ASK YOUR MOTHER
  • The exceptionally high cost of electricity because what the hell are you doing that requires so much God damned light? Reading? Light a candle!
  • The fact that the odometer in a car does not change if the wheels don’t turn. A rather painful lesson when you’ve gone on a joy ride when your folks were in Florida on vacation and you did NOT know they wrote down the mileage and you said you just started it so it wouldn’t get too cold and you thought that was good for cars and no I didn’t actually drive away in it and, wait, what was the question?
  • How to eat a meal without letting your teeth hit the fork because that drives them insane….as a people
  • How to bait a hook without puking

And, they gave these straight-forward life lessons as impatiently and with a level of irritation normally reserved for much more heinous violations. Like terrorist attacks.

The biggest gift here though is bestowing upon us the opportunity to recount these lessons while impersonating them at every Christmas gathering for the rest of our lives.

Modern fathers still need to do all of the above. After all, I still know how to gut a fish, even if I don’t do it all that often.

(Though I have been sorely tempted on more than one occasion to reenact the fish gutting scene from Office Space. If I ever do, I will have my father to thank for the precise way in which I gut aforementioned fish.)

He’s actually not doing it right….

He’s actually not doing it right….

But, in addition to these lessons, they are now expected to look their kids in the eye in order to give them their full attention. They are expected to listen to their weird little stories that really don’t end up with a point. They have to at least pretend to laugh at their jokes that make absolutely no sense, have no comedic timing and an utter lack of irony.

So, hat’s off to you, modern day Dads.

Champions of childhood.

Protector of our prodigy.

Subjugator of our spawn.

We lift our collective glasses of chilled Chardonnay to you. Please keep teaching them weird stuff that would never even occur to a Mom (myself included).

And continue to bestow upon many generations the gift of mocking you at family functions. That gift alone is priceless.