A kid will call a dad out.
The younger the kid, the rawer (is that a word?) the call-out. I’ve navigated three daughters through the unfiltered years, without many stings. There was that day on the Barbie doll aisle with one daughter, who, noting Mattel’s plastic diversity, asked, “why would I want a black Barbie, dad?”
I sailed through that one with honesty, not damage control.
“I think little girls like to play with dolls, no matter what,” I explained. “But sometimes, we want toys that look like us. These dolls look like different people.” And it was true. I remember complaining that there were no Mexican kids on Peanuts.
Or, even a Chicano in Star Wars.
This kid called me out on toilet talk one day at lunch. We’d just settled into our table at CiCi’s Pizza. I’d strapped her into her high chair. Before I could wreak dad havoc on the buffet line (and to give civilization a head start), I headed for the restroom.
My girl waited until I was almost to the door to call out for me.
“Daddy!” she used her outside voice. “Are you going No. 1, or No. 2?” The eyes of CiCi’s Pizza’s patronage settled in on me. “Just No. 1, lovey, just No. 1,” I answered, and glanced around reassuringly to the lunch crowd.
I pushed it out fast and scarcely washed my hands, lest I be thought a liar by lingering longer than No. 1 should take. A few of today’s questions made think of that day, and ways the kids just ask what’s on their mind.
1. Why do you take your phone in the shower?
It’s not like that.
When she asked this, yes, I did take the phone in the shower. All did (mostly) is listen to Pandora. You know, a guy is in the shower for, what, 4 minutes? Long enough to croon along to Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down and get all the spots with dollar-store body wash.
More than once, I’d knock the phone off my shaving mirror while drying off. If the kids were near, they might have learned new cuss-word combinations. Now? Well, I’m much more mature. I can shower (I take 5 minutes sometimes) just singing AC/DC acapella.
Or Sarah Brightman. Either/or.
2. Do you still do Zumba?
Now that the prior image has been replaced by something more profane …
I’ve given up the Zumba. I disappointed the universe there, the same way I did when it was clear I was a Coloradan who couldn’t ski. A Latino man who had to count the eighth-note beats of a Gloria Estafan song to step back in sync with the white girls in his class?
In my mind, I could salsa, side salsa, and sambra right in step with Maricruz, the instructor, and yell “Mi gente!” to an adoring throng of fans, just like Marc Anthony. In reality … people in the class probably gathered around me like an armadillo freshly hit (but not killed) on a Texas interstate.
So, no, I don’t Zumba anymore. Guilty feet have got no rhythm.
3. What’s that squiggly red line under your sentences?
It’s dad season, apparently.
Microsoft Word notes misspelled words with a red squiggly line. That you asked why my sentences were so marked, says more about my writing than it does your sweet, obnoxious, sweet inquisitive nature, you little … darling.
Why would squiggles appear under entire sentences? Either dad’s a worse speller than a Zumba dancer, or … his documents were set to a different language. Pretty sure I couldn’t write something in French on accident, so if my default language is set to French …
Of course, dad will see red.
Now that I have Grammarly, also, (Grammarly is also marked with red squigglies, incidentally – as is the word ‘squigglies’ but not the singular ‘squiggly), words also get the red-line treatment. Only, these red lines are straight.
Just the universe’s way of screamed at me to get off the literary dance floor.
Lucky, I don’t listen.
4. What songs does Poison sing?
Today, you have dudes who sing like girls. Back then, dudes had hair like girls’.
Poison reigned the hair-band era from the mid-80s to mid-90s. They’re now classified as “easy going favorites,” right along with Michael Bolton and Bryan Adams (not the badass Summer of 69 Bryan Adams, but the watered down, sappy All For Love Bryan Adams.)
Poison, known for edgy rock songs such as Talk Dirty to Me and Nothin’ But a Good Time, spun the obligatory rock ballad, too, in Every Rose has it’s Thorn. They made up for the sappiness with a cool rendition of Grand Funk Railroad’s We’re An American Band.
5. Can you use two coupons at a time in Buffalo Wild Wings?
I really wanted to do some research on this.
I wanted to go to a Buffalo Wild Wings, maybe play the claw game there at the door. Smile at the hostess, probably a pretty young thing in that trademark black-and-yellow jersey I’ve come to disassociate from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I’d explain I was there on business, not to eat (although, I do have a coupon …), but that, for my blog – my blog about my daughters, I have three … yeah, three! Can you believe it? Aw, thanks. I don’t FEEL old enough to have a daughter in college. No, I don’t work out …
I’d explain to her that I needed to ask this question, JUST because you know, my kid asked. And it’s for my blog. Want me to write the address down for you? Tell you what – what’s your email address? I’ll email you this link. Oh yeah, it’s no big deal.
A server might walk to the hostess stand to see why the hostess is laughing so much. She’ll take a glance at her one high top in her section, a sweaty guy with no socks who drinks lite beer and had the audacity to say he really liked the view from his seat.
And he wasn’t even looking at the golf tournament on the big screen.
She’d come over, Lana’s her name, to talk with Cindy, who actually trained her back in the summer. And then Cindy would have to explain to Lana about the blog, and look! This guy even won a stuffed green buffalo from the claw game, and no one ever wins those!
Then maybe the bartender, Juliette, would walk over because of all the laughing, and think, “wow, I love your frames,” but then she’d see me and say, “wait, don’t you work at Red Ventures?” And it’ll turn out she used to be an agent there, but quit.
She quit because of the old guy who came to Zumba and really threw off the vibe, you know? Like you felt sorry for him, and hoped that a carnivorous cat would take him out like they did the old and slow wildebeest on an Animal Planet show, you know?
And hopefully, this will all play out just in my mind, my imagination taking off without me, leaving me at the claw game dropping dollars in pursuit of that green buffalo, and suddenly, the irony that a green buffalo even is elusive to me hits me.
And when Cindy comes out and asks how many are in my party, I’ll say, “just one, lovey. Just one,” it has nothing to do with the bathroom. But all the same, I’ll just use one coupon and not even ask about two, because who does that?