for your favorite dad to learn y'all
how to untangle the mysteries of
tying a half-hitch?
Are you back looking for dadly hints
on streamlining the boy's gutter
regatta racer so he can ka-
fellow Cubbies at the Scout meet,
or glean some cryptic Tim the Toolman
tips on constructing the perfect
Cubmobile with nothing more than
a 2' x 4',
a claw hammer
and a magnum of Boone's Farm Apple?
Come ON, already, willya??
I am continually befuddled by
the hundreds of thousands of e-mail
messages sent to your dear old dad
every day from the clueless and
the lame among us expecting that
when they sample "dads-dot-com,"
that they will somehow walk away
with an enlightened paternal glow ---
that unto them will be delivered
mystic and wondrous wisdoms and
little-known truisms improving
the sad, sad state of their
impoverished dadly skills.
Those of you who have become regulars
to this God-forsaken column most certainly know better.
But just this once ---
and I do mean ONLY today ---
just because I am loathe to turn
away any reader unfortunate enough
to have stumbled upon this l'il ol' URL
out here on the Wild Wild Web,
I will let you in on a
secret dadly game
I've personally developed
that is GUARANTEED to turn the most
insipid qual-time exercise into that true,
shining and halo-conferring bonding
drek that so many of us today seek
expensive counseling to achieve.
This might be an appropriate time for
you to fetch a pencil and paper
as you will undoubtedly want to jot
down notes for your own future reference.
Of course, I cannot give you any tacit
guarantees, dear readers, and if you're
of a litigious nature, I shall
retain a skulk of sleazebag attorneys
(many of them my personal friends and colleagues),
who will proclaim to the ends of
the earth that your favorite dad was
in an entirely unacceptable and socially
inappropriate cognitive state during the
creation of this super-secret cyber place.
That aside, as you well know,
my personal finances dictate I
re-use lunchbags and
wear a snappy cardboard belt.
What I CAN guarantee,
my dear, dear readers,
is a rare and fleeting glimpse
behind the scenes --- into the
very bowels of dadsville itself.
So come on!
And let's bond, shall we?
Your wife has left you high and dry,
seeking the transient solace of a
(and perhaps a covert shooter o' schnapps),
in the coffee klatsch geese-gaggle
we call "Electric Ladyland."
The children, as you might expect, are
bored, bored, bored.
You, the diddly dad, are their
only remaining avenue to
fun, fun, fun!
Yet, another frazzy day at work
has again all but destroyed your
very being, and you are more accustomed
to an after-dinner snoozer than
fully-blown quality time noodlings
with the little kiddles.
What, in the name of God, does one do?
Games like "Knife and Sharp Stick"
seem wholly inappropriate.
I bid my long-suffering wife
adieu vowing that we'd all play
"Knife and Sharp" in her absence,
hoping to rattle her cage on her
way to her Moccachino Moment.
"That'll be real nice,"
she says with an L. Ron Hubbard glow,
torquing down the street
at a speedometer reading
that would make Chuck Yeager himself
drop to the very earth in a puling fetal position,
whinnying for mercy from our Lord and Savior.
With the lingering acrid smell
of incinerated AquaTreads still
wafting about our charming cul-de-sac,
it was time to show the kiddies
that their old dad could be
one heck-of-a-rollicking fun guy.
Go on, kids!
Go one and pick a game or sumptin' ---
ANY game! GO ON!!!
Not realizing what in the Sam Hill
I was really saying, my daughter
immediately produces two of her
and a game called
"Pretty Pretty Princess."
Without a doubt, this was it.
I had reached low ebb in my
tragic suburban life.
In this particularly loathsome game,
hopeful players spin your standard
gameboard spinner dial, and are
instructed to festively accessorize
themselves with colorful
pieces of polymer jewelry ---
now clip-on earings, here a bracelet,
there a matching necklace or cocktail ring
(all very color coordinated by Milton
Bradley's finest jewel designers),
until you spin for the game's grail ---
the regally elusive and bejeweled
Pretty Pretty Princess crown.
Ah, dear dads, it is not as easy
to become the Pretty Pretty Princess
as it might sound; one must have
exhibited the cunning and wile to
have accumulated the entire ensemble;
earrings, braclet, necklace, ring
AND crown to bask in the
serene and majestic glow of
supreme regal monarch.
Oh, Empress of the Sun!
Oh, Czarina of all Russias!
Oh, Pretty Pretty Princess!
To my eternal dismay, amidst the
girly gaggle's giggling,
I flicked the hateful spinner
and swept by the Fates into
my hapless destiny, was suddenly, woefully
crowned Pretty Pretty Princess.
The event in itself was,
at least initially,
internally manageable amidst
only the chirping giggle cherubs,
but when my son leapt from behind
the living room door, with a
Kodak One-Step blazing,
I knew I would rue both the day
and my sudden soverign reign.
Despite a number of installment-type
"protection" payments remitted to my scheming son,
(who, I am told, blew the hush money
on a fine rococo dacha in the
rolling hills of Georgia, not far from Tbilisi),
in short order the photos of my
cringing countenance, bespangled
in the Pretty Pretty dingle dangles,
had somehow fallen into the hands of
my evil sib, who immediately turned
them over to the broadcast media
with a pleading fact sheet explaining I had
"...wandered off from a psychiatric care facility,"
and that while I was
my "delusional nature might well become amplified
the longer he is away from his
regular dose of psychotropics."
While I was the lead item on the early news,
a couple of well-placed calls to
area assignment desks cleared
the matter right up, and at 11:00 that night,
the news returned to top stories spun
from the usual socially provocative
themes portrayed in network made-for-TV movies.
All was right with the world again.
When the smoke had sufficiently cleared,
it was time for a dose of dadly revenge.
"...we'll play a NEW game now,"
I averred, removing the regal
acoutrements and carefully replacing
them in their regal Milton Bradley box.
yipped the wide-eyed brood, my
snaky son now including himself.
"Why, it's a new game I've invented myself!"
There followed some group clapping and
the stray "yippee" along with an array
of impromptu adrenalin-laced gymnastics.
"What is it? What is it??"
"Why, children, it's a new game I call
How do you play THAT??"
"Why, it's a snap!
Your old dad lays down on his
and starts counting..."
"...then you guys go and find
your bestest and most super-secretest
"...then I go to sleep in the chair."
and they gleefully scampered off
to the four corners of the earth,
or at least to their usual
hiding places in the shower
and under their beds.
By the time I'd counted up around 39,
I had drifted off into the blissful Land O' Nod ---
where I dreamed the same dream
I had dreamed since I was their age ---
since I could remember anything at all.
He had a stovepipe like the Mad Hatter
and he said his name was "Mr. Yellow Pages,"
and with grand cartoon flourish he
again beckoned me into
the alphabet letters on the wallpaper.
And once there I would
never ever grow up or grow old.
The kids, grown impatient and weary
after hiding for a number of millennia,
emerged from their secret
places fully grown, having
forgotten completely about their old dad ---
who was nowhere to be found, but
everywhere in that living room,
moving about the space,
whispering his name,
so they would not forget ---
so they would never forget ---
now softer and softer
until the voice was forever gone.
The wind, they thought.
far away in the Alphabet Wall,
my training wheels,
were off the bike
and someone so kind,
someone who loved me unconditionally
and eternally without pause or question,
someone I never ever knew,
gave a push and let me go ---
and now five years old,
I pedaled with all of my life
until balance blessed me,
and I rode, on and on and on
to the very place where time ended,
and then I rode some more.
I was free.