I Love You When You’re Fat or Welcome Home Daddy

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As a kid, I remember waiting for my dad to get home from work every afternoon. This was back when people used to get home from work at 5:30 like clockwork. Actually, shit, this was back when people used to have real jobs instead of just running boutique letterpress studios out of their basement, or quilting, or handing out business cards that say “Project Manager.”

Anyway, I’d sit by the kitchen window and watch for his car to pull up, then run as fast as I could out to the driveway to give him a hug.

It’s not often that I “go to work.” Usually, I just sit at the kitchen table trying to ignore the chaos that erupts from two five year olds with little parental supervision. Sometimes they play cards quietly. Sometimes they try to figure out what will happen if they put action figures in the toaster. Often, they do “parkour” in the living room, performing somersaults over the cat.

In other words, shit gets crazy. When it gets really crazy, I retreat to a coffee shop and leave the kids with my wife or a baby sitter or some random lady that I find walking by the house who’s willing to watch the kids in exchange for free wifi and all the microwavable popcorn she can eat.

Working in coffee shops has a couple of advantages. 1) I live in a weird town and weird people congregate in coffee shops in the middle of the day. So I get to watch old ladies in ornate, peacock-inspired hats look at vampire porn magazines Seriously. I see this lady at the coffee shop all the time. She’s like 80. Loves vampire porn. And peacock hats 2) I get to pretend like I’m a dad from the ‘80s who goes to work and comes home to a loving family. Punching the time clock. Contributing to the gross national product. Working towards my pension. That’s me.

Occasionally my kids will run out to greet me in the front yard, just like I did to my dad as a kid. It’s a big thrill, and it makes all the hours toiling away trying to think of synonyms for “velvety” worth it.

Anyway, one night recently I get home from “work,” and my daughter runs out to me and gives me a big hug, then pulls back, looks me over, and says, “daddy.”

I say, “Yes, honey?”

And she says, “I love you when you’re fat.”

And I say, “What do you mean, honey?”

And she says, “I like it when you’re skinny here (pointing to my shoulders and chest) and fat right here (point to my belly).”

Okay. So much for the loving family. I didn’t take it too hard though, mainly because my daughter is bat shit crazy. Two seconds later, she finished the conversation with this gem: “Also, my body is like a video game. When it goes like this, ‘beep,’ that means I won.”

Then she ran off to play with her brother. Occasionally I’d hear her beep from the playroom. I guess that means she won.

Welcome home, daddy.

Dear Over-Achieving Parents

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An open letter to the mom who brings a story book to read her kids at the playground,

Suck it.

Why are you reading to your children in public? You’re trying too hard. Everyone knows that books are to be read as quickly as possible and half-assed during the last 15 minutes before tucking your little monsters in bed for the night.

Parks are supposed to be a book-free sanctuary, a place where parents can go to wear their children out with minimal parental effort and parent/child interaction.

The mom checking Facebook while her kid eats cigarette butts knows this unwritten rule. The circle of moms bragging about their hybrids understand this. You don’t bring books and interactive activities to the park. What’s next? A craft project with glitter glue?

I really don’t even think you should spend too much time pushing your kids on the swing. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. The sooner they learn how to pump their legs.

If you want to be a good parent, you do it in the privacy of your own home.

5 Reasons Why Daddy Drinks Went MIA

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You’ve probably noticed a slight gap in my posting schedule for this blog. Like, a two month gap. There are several reasons why a person who blogs about the shenanigans that ensue when a man-child is put in charge of real children on a daily basis. Here are the Top 5 Reasons Why Daddy Drinks Went MIA.

1)   Coma: After an innocent pillow fight turned tragic, I fell into a coma for the last two months. Don’t feel sorry for me—I spent the time dreaming that I was the seventh cast member of Friends. It was lovely.

2)   Sugar Crash: During the holidays, the kids lived entirely on candy and hot chocolate. Since January 1st, I’ve spent 18 hours a day mitigating the massive withdrawal symptoms that occur when you force two five-year-olds to quit sugar cold turkey. It hasn’t been pretty.

3)   Lego Bender: The kids got so many Lego sets for Christmas, I’ve been hold up in the basement for the last two months putting together multi-colored block cafes, fire trucks, and helicopters. I didn’t even break for the Olympics. I drank protein shakes and wore a catheter. As soon as I’d finish a model, my son would begin deconstructing it. It was like some weird, tragic performance art.

4)   Work: I took a job as the Drink editor for Paste Magazine and liquor and beer started showing up on my doorstep at an alarming rate. At the same time, I put up a zip line in the backyard for the kids. Booze and zip lining don’t mix. See reason 1) Coma, above.

5)   It was ski season.

6)   Bonus Reason: Shit hit the fan after I bought my wife a vacuum for Christmas. At first, she was all like, “oh, honey, I love it!” But then she casually started telling me about all the great gifts her other friends got from their husbands for Christmas (“did you Tim gave Julie a necklace? Isn’t that wild?”) then started vacuuming up various personal items of mine. I just now pulled all my computer keys from the vacuum bag.

You choose the reason for my absence. Believe what you want. The important thing is, Daddy Drinks is back—“Daddier” and “Drinkier” than ever. I’ll catch you up on what’s happened in the last two months in the next post. Hint: there is a zip line involved, and the tooth fairy, and booze.

Road Games

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In Boulder we counted how many Punch Buggies we saw, then we moved on to Mini Coopers. We had epic thumb wars in Moab, and the world’s shortest staring contests outside Canyonlands. (Some new info: my daughter blinks 211 times a minute).

At one point, we tried to teach the kids some Spanish but they just kept making up their own words and teaching us: “chiminobo” “it means lets go to the volcano.”

We had an ice cream eating contest outside of Zion, then Liz tried to see who could stay quiet the longest. That game was over before it started.

At one point, my son tried to see how many Scooby Snacks he could eat without throwing up. Normally, Scooby Snacks are not part of the Averill Recommended Diet, but we let it go. “They’re just graham crackers” we told ourselves. Graham crackers coated in sugar. It’s like meth for 4-year-olds.

Also in Zion, my son tried to see how many tantrums he could throw before I threw him off the side of a cliff. He almost found out.

Now, the kids are watching cartoons in a swank hotel room in Las Vegas and for some reason, my son feels the need to tell me, “daddy, you are not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,” about every 30 seconds. As if I needed a reminder.

All this is to say, “Happy Father’s Day” to all the dads out there. In the words of fine ‘80s television: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Facts of Life. The Facts of Life.”

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Who’s the Boss?

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Like most three year olds, my kids have become rather bossy. They’re getting older, more independent, and more worldly. They’ve seen a thing or two. They know what’s up. They’re pushing four for Christ’s sake, and they know how spaghetti and meatballs should be made! They know how their jacket should be zipped, and they’ve got no problem with telling me I’m not doing it properly.

It would be less annoying of they weren’t usually right.

The other night, I reached into the fridge for my third beer of the evening. My daughter cocked her head and, somehow channeling both my mother and my wife, said, “you’re having another beer, daddy?”

It wasn’t a question, it was an accusation.

Last week, we were headed to the park to meet some friends for soccer. It was one of those rare, warm winter days and everyone in the neighborhood was hell bent on making the most of it. We live less than a mile from the park, on low-traffic roads, so I loaded the kids into the bike trailer. It was a quick trip, so I didn’t think it was necessary for the kids to wear their helmets, but my son refused to leave the yard until I dug his helmet out of the back of the car. “Safety first, daddy.”

Addie has taken her bossiness to a whole new level, appointing herself to the role of my anger management coach. Like all stay at home dads, I’m prone to fits of rage. Someone, please tell me how you keep from seeing red when it takes an hour and fifty seven minutes to get a pair of shoes on a child? By the time I get that second shoe on, the kid has already taken the first shoe off and hidden the sock somewhere in the basement. Even Buddha would lose his shit, right?

Whenever I go into one of my tirades and threaten to melt every single toy the kids own in the chiminea my daughter looks me directly in the eye and says, “daddy, don’t be so angry. When you’re angry, you act like Captain Hook. I don’t like Captain Hook.”

Her logic is completely disarming. Not to mention those cute pigtails.

The whole situation has left me wondering who’s parenting who in my house.

I always thought that if my life was an ‘80s family sitcom, I’d be the unrefined but wise Tony Danza character: Unconventional, but good hearted and with a natural instinct for right and wrong. Tony Danza is the voice of reason in a topsy-turvy world. But it turns out, my kids are Tony Danza, which makes me what, Alyssa Milano? I’m certainly not the ambitious, work-focused mother. Wait, am I the oversexed grandma?

If my kids ever figure out how to turn on the TV by themselves, I’ll be completely out of a job.

 

Drink of the Week: PBR, 24 Ounces

No, not a Tall Boy. A 24 ouncer, which is like, a third bigger than a Tall Boy and demands significantly more commitment. Preferably, the beer should be pre-warmed in the bottle cage of your road bike. Enter that road bike and Super Tall Boy PBR in a sprint race up the side of a mountain—the kind of race where Olympic medalists show up, and everyone talks about “tapering their training.” You should immediately get disqualified from the race because your wife beater and jean shorts don’t meet US Cycling Association “standards,” but then demand to race anyway, promising to donate all of your winnings to the charity of the USA Cycling Association official’s choice. Drink that warm PBR slowly, at the finish line at the top of the mountain, in front of that USA Cycling Association official. Preferably, you should drink it with at least two other friends, also over-worked, over-tired dads dressed in jean cutoffs and wife beaters. Because sometimes, dads need to get together and do something that embarrasses their wives.

Ding Dongs and Duracells

This is what my son asked to put on the grocery list this week: Pez, batteries, and chocolate donuts. I asked if that’s all we needed from the store for the entire week—maybe we should add some milk, or some veggies—but he stuck to his guns. Pez, batteries, and chocolate donuts. Childhood obesity aside, you’ve gotta respect the kid’s whimsical outlook on life.

It reminds me of a story my mom likes to tell about how I tried to run away as a little kid. She told me I couldn’t run away because I didn’t know how to cook or tie my shoes. I said I’d eat cookies and wear loafers.

Cute, until you realize I was 12 and still couldn’t tie my shoes.

Anyway, there was a time, not too long ago, when I would’ve taken my son’s challenge and stocked the grocery cart with nothing but ding dongs and Duracells. Carpe diem, mother fuckers.

But I don’t carpe diem so much anymore. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve matured, but mostly it’s because I have to get up in the morning and spend a solid 12 hours catering to every whim of my two children. At about 6am, my kids will start asking me, “what are we going to do today, daddy?” I can hold them off with cartoons for a while, but by 7am, if I don’t have a firm plan for the day that includes a craft project and the slim possibility of them being able to pet a live lion, it’ll get “Lord of the Flies” up in here real quick.

I can remember the last time I seized the day. Actually, I can’t remember the actual seizing of the day, but I remember the day after, when I spent a significant amount of time throwing up loudly in the bathroom while my daughter cried outside the door, and repeatedly asked her brother, “what’s wrong with daddy?”

Yeah, that’ll fix any inclinations to carpe the fucking diem.

And let’s say I did some carpe diem-ing with my children, threw caution to the wind and fed the family chocolate donuts for breakfast, lunch, and snack. Do you know what happens when my kids skip their nap? The cat will get shaved.

These days, I have a new motto: Seize the tomorrow. Carpe, uh, tomorrow (sorry, the only Latin I know comes from Dead Poets Society). It takes copious amounts of planning, saving, resting, and monitoring of blood pressure levels to truly seize the tomorrow. Most of the time, I fall completely short, and only manage to seize the couch.

The Twenty

I was doing some light math recently (always dangerous when I start tinkering with subtraction) and I realized that I’m closing in on my 20th high school reunion. It’s a mere two years away. I had to double check my math because, well, because I’m so damned young, it simply can’t be right. But…carry the one…pie…yep. My twenty is just two years away. Which means I can’t be as young as I think I am. I must be well into my 30s.

Bummer.

Now, an argument could me made that high school reunions aren’t relevant anymore. What, with Facebook and self-indulgent blogs (I’m talking about your blog, not mine. My blog is art), you could say some of us have never actually left high school. Not only do I know what that weird kid who sat in the back of my Spanish class is doing for a living these days (his Linkedin profile says accountant, but really he’s a cashier at Golden Corral), I know what he had for breakfast this morning, and that he’s “psyched to see how this season of Secret Circle turns out.”

And yet, I feel the gravitational pull of the high school reunion. I skipped the 10 year, got stupid drunk at the five year and rode a mechanical bull so I may as well have skipped it, but the 20 year has a certain amount of weight to it. Twenty years is a significant amount of time–plenty of time for my classmates to have grown into interesting human beings.

Which means I have exactly two years to grow into an interesting human being myself. I have a lot of work to do.

There are about eight foreign countries I need to travel to before the reunion. I’m not sure about the specific countries, but I feel like eight is a good, “well traveled,” number to shoot for. What country is hot right now with the ex-patriot crowd? Pakistan? Something with a “stan”? I’ll start with Pakistan, then maybe hit Canada.

I have to find my abs. I can’t remember where I left them (in a bar, probably) but I know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen them.

I have to write a novel. Better yet, I need to write a screenplay, because, frankly, I went to a Georgia public school, so none of us class of ’94 Hoyas can read too good (Go Hoyas!)

I should buy one of those hip hybrid sports cars. The one that Clooney drives. Can you fit two car seats in there?

And any self respecting man should be onto his second marriage by the 20-year reunion. That’s trophy wife territory. Luckily, my wife is trophy hot, so I’m good there. I’ll just buy her a slutty dress and refer to her as Nadia all night long.

That’s a big to-do list to knock off between now and 2014. Fortunately, my high school performance was so underwhelming in every category from sports to grades, that I’ve set the expectations very low. If I show up without a house arrest bracelet on my ankle, people will probably be pleasantly surprised.

An Odyssey of Meat

I know what you’re thinking. “An Odyssey of Meat”: Great gay-porn title. Sadly, no, that’s not what this is about.

It’s not easy for me to leave the kids, even for a couple of days, but sometimes an assignment pops up that I simply can’t refuse. Like this one: Find the best burger in the state of North Carolina. Sounds like a dream, right? But here’s the catch. Because of familial obligations (somebody has to feed the kids and make sure the TV is on for them all day) I only have 72 hours to do the sampling. My list of burgers to try has reached 25 and continues to grow. I’m not good at math, but that’s like an average of seven burgers a day. I know. I’ve got uptown problems.

Beef. It’s what’s for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. And snacks.

I’m in day two of this Meat Odyssey. Let me describe how it’s gone so far. Wake early, hit the treadmill, drive two hours to a diner in the middle of nowhere, eat a burger with cheese, chili, slaw, get back in the car to drive two hours to an uber-hip gourmet burger place where they put things I can’t even spell on top of their burgers, then run across the street to an old school bar that’s been doing burgers a certain way for 20 years, then back in the car for a two hour drive…

Today, I’ve had five burgers in as many hours. Or is it seven? I don’t know. I’m meat drunk. Dizzy and sluggish and confused. My fingertips are humming and my ears are hot. Is that the sign of a stroke? Am I having a meat stroke?

Much like Odysseus in The Odyssey, I too am learning some things about myself and the world during my journey through North Carolina’s finest cows.

Thing 1) The Black Keys offer the best soundtrack for eating burgers. Burgers are dirty (in a good way). The Black Keys are dirty (in a good way).

Thing 2) I sleep really well in hotel rooms. It could be the fact that I don’t have two three-year-olds waking me up at 2:30 in the a.m. because they want to watch Yogi Bear. But I’m going to say it’s the pillows.

Thing 3) Eating roughly 16 pounds of beef in 72 hours is just as difficult as it sounds. Here’s a metaphor for you: The burger odyssey is a lot like sex. If it goes on for too long, it starts to hurt.

Thing 4) While dining solo is calm and peaceful, sampling seven burgers a day in some of the state’s most unique restaurants and bars isn’t nearly as much fun without my wife and two kids, who would be emptying the salt shaker down their pants at each establishment. The kids do that, not my wife. In other words, I miss my family.

The real question throughout this journey is this: Was Socrates right? Is the key to happiness really moderation? Even eating burgers? I know that burgers are good, therefore a lot of burgers should be a lot of good. But I’m nervous. My belly has this hard, knotty consistency to it and I’ve been slightly nauseous since Burger #2. Will this journey have long-term health implications? Am I entering the Spirit World?

Oh, and my apologies to any Hindu readers of this blog. I’d suggest skipping this week’s entry, which you’ll find incredibly insensitive. My bad

The Dad Knife

I’m not a tough guy. Ask anyone who knows me. I’ve never been in a fight, I’ve never rebuilt an engine, never seduced a woman (unless you count slowly wearing down the same girl over 19 years as a seduction)…I don’t even have one of those cheesy barb wire tattoos. And yet I still can’t shake the Hemingway notion of what a man is. You know the classic archetype I’m thinking of: A man knows how to throw a punch, drinks too much, speaks plainly, kills things in the woods, takes his shirt off in social situations, hates himself a little bit…

It’s a completely archaic notion of manhood that I don’t resemble at all, except for the drinking and self hatred. But I recently received my first “Dad Knife,” a very manly piece of steel that all self-respecting dads have to carry. Certainly, you remember the little knife that your dad kept in his pocket to do everything from filet a fish to open a Christmas package. My dad was always wielding his blade, even if it wasn’t appropriate. You could ask him to help with your math homework, and somehow, the knife would end up on the table, open and gleaming. Now, I have my own phallic weapon to show off, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m sure men of previous generations would label me a “dandy” because I like to do things like read books and cook food (that I didn’t kill myself). I have more than one pair of shoes and I use the internet more for recipes than porn. Sad, I know. But having my first dad knife has reinvigorated my admiration for traditionally manly things like lifting heavy objects and whistling at women I don’t know. So far, the knife has been sitting in my pocket, completely idle, but any day now, my son will come to me with a stick he’s found in the yard and I’ll whittle it into a spear for him. Or a bunny.

So that’s my plan for 2012–whittle many spears. I’m going to try to be more manly. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’m hoping it’ll translate into me getting to shoot more guns and have more sex. It probably won’t. If I’m lucky, it’ll mean I try to teach my kids how to play poker (or at least War) and eat less vegetables. I’m cool with that.

If you’re curious about what exactly a man looks like (get your mind out of the gutter, pervs), check out The Good Men Project, which is a collective of sorts concerned with the notion of manhood, manliness, dads, dudes…all things penis.