Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#011 In which our hero writes a letter to his daughter

Dear Lily,

As I write this, you are a wonderful six-month-old baby. Your mother and I love you very much, even though we do wish you'd sleep through the night a little more often. When I look at you I'm amazed that I helped make sure a bright-eyed, smiling, happy little girl. Your mom says you look like me, but I don't really see it. But you do have her red hair, which is cool.

I'm trying to imagine the life you'll have... you literally have countless opportunities before you. Will you be a doctor? A lawyer? A movie star? Will you work in advertising, like your dad? Or will you be a scientist, like your mom? Maybe you'll be a teacher like my dad, or a nurse like my mom. With so much opportunity and life in front of you, I'd just like to say one thing:

I hope I don't fuck it up.

I mean, I'm trying to be a good father, and so far I think I'm doing a really good job. Then again, at 6-months, as long as I don't accidentally put you in the oven or drop you down the stairs, it's easy to be a parent. My biggest fear is that you being a sweet baby now means you'll be a surly teenager later.

As you mother can tell you, I'm really not good with having to repeat myself or having people blow me off. I'm afraid teenagers - by definition - tend to blow off their parents and need things repeated to them. This could be a challenge.

And I don't even know how to tackle the big issues - sex, drugs, work, cars... I know all of these things will be critically important to you some day, and probably much sooner than I'd like. All I can say, honey, is that I'm learning how to do this job as we go along... you might have to cut me some slack.

So to sum up: I love you, stay in school, don't do drugs, boys are stinky, get a job, listen to what I say, listen to what I say the first time, sorry I'm sometimes an asshole, and I love you again.

Your Dad


#010 In which our hero plays the lottery. Poorly.

About a year ago the battery in our cordless phone died. Naturally, it wasn't a C-cell or AA or something that we conveniently have in the house, it was an odd cordless-phone-specific high-density-something-or-other that forced me to truck out to Radio Shack.

I don't really like going to Radio Shack; it always makes me feel dumb. The rows and rows of obscure little electronic components sealed in tiny baggies... I have no idea what they're for. I'd love to be the guy that buys half a dozen things at Radio Shack then goes home and builds his own robot, but I'm not. Usually it goes something like this:
ME: I broke the antenna off my boom box. Do you guys sell replacement antennas?
CLERK (Looking over my shoulder to the rack of 50 different brands of replacement antennas): Yes we do.
ME: Okay, which do I need?
CLERK: That depends. Does your radio have a framestat receiver or a ramestat receiver?
ME: Um... should I know that?
So I go in there with the dead battery in hand, hoping that I can just hand it to the guy and say "sell me one of these."

But, wonders of wonders, when I get there they have a revolving kiosk of phone batteries. I won't even have to talk to the sales guy! So I spend the next ten minutes looking for my battery. It's printed on the side that it's "Type 342," and the blisters of batteries are also clearly labeled by type. So I'm turning the display, looking for 342, 342... 352, 421, 221... no 342. So I finally break down and ask the guy behind the counter.

Why is it, do you think, that Radio Shack is staffed exclusively with middle-aged white geeks? I've never seen a 16-year-old just working a summer job, or, come to think of it, a woman. Ever.

Anyway, the guy looks at my battery, confirms it's "Type 342," and does exactly what I did: rotates the display looking for the battery. Some of the batteries are out of place, so it's possible that there's one I missed. But after another ten minutes of this guy mumbling "hmm.. 342, 342... 352, 421, 221... no 342..." I'm ready to leave. But, just as I'm about to bail, I notice the corner of a package that has fallen under the display. I fish it out, and it's "Type 342!"

"Wow," Mr. Radio Shack says, "That's incredible that you found the only 342 in the store. You should play that number in the lottery."

And that's exactly what I do. I'm not a lottery guy at all, but what the hell, I figure. There's a lottery store right here in the mall, and I'll only play a buck. With the "Type 342" in my pocket, I plunk down my $1 to play my number. The nice lady behind the counter looks up, types in "342" in her lottery machine, then asks "Straight or boxed?"

This, if you didn't guess, is a critical moment of our tale. For anyone even less lottery-literate than I am, "straight" means you win if the number comes up "3-4-2." "Boxed" means you win if any combination of "3-4-2" comes up. You win more money straight, naturally. So I play it straight.

And what comes up that night? "3-2-4." If I had boxed it, I would have won something like $80. Instead, I got zero.

And so, once again thanks to Radio Shack, I end up feeling dumb.


#009 In which our hero encounters a salesman.

Couple days ago we had a "parents meeting" at the daycare where we take the little girl. The idea, I'm told, was to give the parents the opportunity to meet each other, and maybe set up play groups and such. Since the little girl is only six months old, her play groups typically are comprised of piles of whatever is in reach that can be chewed on. Which at this age is approximately every single thing in the house.

Since our daycare provider is just a women who does it out of her house, there aren't a lot of kids there, something like six or seven, and not all of them come every day. Bottom line there were only my wife and I, and two other sets of parents. And I couldn't stand a one of them (except my wife, naturally).

The idea of forming a play group in which my little girl plays with their kids while I attempt to trade small talk over coffee is horrifying. I suspect the conversation would go something like this:
ME: So, we take our kids to the same daycare, huh?
(Long uncomfortable pause)
ME: Your know your kid is kinda ugly, right?
I shouldn't pick on the one set of parents, they don't seem actively annoying (even if they did name their son "Loki," one of the dumber choices I've heard in awhile). But this other couple. Oh, boy, this other couple.

She seems to be a bitch. Turns out she works in claims for Progressive Insurance. The self-same Progressive Insurance I worked at for six months when my unemployment ran out and I had to get a job. I mentioned that I used to work there, thinking I'd get a "really? Small world!" kind of reaction. Instead, I got an indifferent glare that said "so what? You and every other third asshole in Cleveland."

But her husband took the lion's share of my disdain. He wore an ugly, ill-fitting suit that screamed used car salesman. He was balding, sleazy, slimy and otherwise unappealing. Turns out he is a salesman, but for a radio station. Let us be clear: he sells air time on a radio station. That means you can call him and ask how much it would cost to run your spot on his station during a particular time piece and he'll put your commercial on the broadcast. He sells air. Now, I don't begrudge him that... it's a job that someone has to do, and as far as jobs go, not a terrible one.

But the thing is, I work in advertising. I'm a copywriter, an advertising writer. Me and my ilk are the ones that come up with "Where's the Beef?" or "A Coke and a smile" or "Just do it," even though I've never written anything near that popular or famous. (As an aside - "Just do it" was written by a college grad student who was paid $34 for his work. Isn't that a kick in the pants?)

So, needless to say, when Mr. Smarmy Radio Salesman started to say "Well, we in the advertising business..." my hackles went up. I am in the advertising business. This guy is in the advertising business like a car salesman is in the NASCAR business. He handles a product that is tangentially related to the industry. Air time is a vehicle, a mode of transmitting a message, certainly not the message itself.

Fortunately, we were on our way out when dipstick starting moving his mouth. Otherwise I could have most likely been moved to reveal that I was also in the advertising business and he'd ask me what I do and before long I'd be ranting "You are a salesman! You could just as easily be selling shoes or encyclopedias or hair plugs! You are NOT in the advertising business!"

And then a slap fight breaks out and that's not good for anybody.


#008 In which the word "boob" is used often and indiscriminately.

My little girl loves the boob.

I mean, I like boobs, too, but not like my little girl. There have been long periods in my life when I didn't even get to see a boob (this was, sadly, before the Internet and porn-on-demand) much less get to touch a boob.

However, if my daughter doesn't get a hold of her mother's boob at least once every 12 hours THE WORLD ENDS.

"Boob Lover"

The worst part of the world ending is that we can usually see it coming. If she's been asleep for a long time - sans boob - we know that once she wakes up there had better be a boob waiting or there will be hell to pay. My wife and I will tip-toe past her, giving knowing glances to each other:
Wife (hushed voice): When she wakes up, the boob had better be front and center.
Me (grinning): Maybe you should get 'em out now?
Wife: Shut up, you.
The little girl will wake up and look around worriedly, trying to locate the boob. If she doesn't see it right away, she'll start to call for the boob. Softly at first, then with increasing intensity.

Boooooob. Boooo-oooooob! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOB!!!!

If the situation gets really desperate, there's sometimes a hitching crying between calls:

Boooooo-ahuh, ahuh-oooob! Hek-hek-hek-boooOOOOOOBB!!!

It just breaks your heart, I'll tell you. I imagine that boobs throughout the neighborhood turn their pink eyes toward our house, trying to heed the undeniable call of a hungry child, but are unable - due to restraint or apathy on the part of their owners - to break free and gather, herd-like, on our front step.

A herd of boobs - now that's something I'd like to see. Excuse me, I need to go wake my daughter.


#007 In which our hero makes a wifecentric list.

Ten Reasons That My Wife is the Perfect Wife for Me.

10. She knows all the words to the opening narration of "The Odd Couple."

9. She doesn't get mad when I grope her boobs in my sleep.

8. I can reference Sleestack, Apache Chief, Jabber Jaw, and Lidsville and she knows what I'm talking about. (Well, maybe not Lidsville).

7. Adam Sandler.

6. You know the part in "The Royal Tenenbaums" near the end - right before the car crash - when the priest gets pushed down a staircase? My wife and I were the only ones in the theater that laughed. And we laughed hard.

5. Like me, she knows that farting is always funny. And that baby farts are HILARIOUS.

4. She'll argue with me tooth and nail about the implausibility of John Connor sending his own father back in time to sleep with his mother while casually accepting time travel, killer cyborgs and a bleak future world controlled by evil computers.

3. She has performed self-damaging naked acrobatics for me.

2. She makes me laugh. All the time.

1. She - undoubtedly against her better judgment - not only agreed to have sex with me but gave me the most beautiful, gassy, chubby baby ever to puke down the front of my shirt.


#006 In which our hero discovers that pimpin' is, indeed, not easy.

My baby is perfect. I know that every parent thinks their baby is perfect, but they're wrong. MY baby is the perfect one. I mean, just look:

Is that a perfect angel or what? (Ignore the drool). My wife and I often talk about the perfectness of our little bean, and how other parents, while they smile and coo appreciatively, must secretly be thinking "Dammit! That baby is perfect! How did I get stuck with such a clunker?"

Lily (the afore mentioned perfect baby) is a very happy baby, too; always smiling and laughing. There's nothing like this little girl's giggle to brighten your day. Well, that is, unless you're one of the bitter, envious parents that covet my baby.

She's so perfect and photogenic that it occurred to me that she's twice the baby than some of the ugly off-spring you see on TV or in ads. I mean, look at the Olsen twins! They looked like scrunched up humanzees... and now they're multi-millionaires. And also, kinda hot.

Should I feel guilty that I would like my daughter to be a multi-millionaire, too? I'd gladly handle her finances for her, and I'd only skim off 10%, not like those other money-grubbin' parent-managers... just enough to buy a small mansion in California wine country. With my own private airstrip, of course.

But seriously, how could you NOT buy sometime hawked by this beautiful little girl?


or even

Of course, my wife is the logical one in our pairing. She pointed out that I'd have to quit my job and be available at all hours for photo shoots and the like. The thing is, I'd gladly quit my job to ferry around my daughter to line my own pockets... but to be home in the middle of the day and not be able to take a nap? Forget that.