When I find myself completely overwhelmed and flying all over the place and acting grumpy and panicked and irrational I like to blame my son. Who is 12.
It’s because he puts a lot of pressure on me to set a good example, which makes my neurotic behavior worse. I can’t be expected to just walk around setting good examples all the time can I? I’m no Obama. Besides, I didn’t sign up for parenthood to be a good example. I signed up for the tax credit.
Do girls as offspring create pressure on their parents to set good examples? I don’t know, because I don’t have a girl, just the one boy. I told you that earlier. You’re obviously not listening.
I blame my son’s propensity to make my already bad behavior worse on the fact that when my wife was pregnant I made her sleep in our Subaru Forester one hot summer night in Portland, Oregon. And she was like, really pregnant.
My friend Mark (real name, not an alias, which reminds me I should use his alias, which is Strychnine, but now it’s too late) lived in Portland, Oregon a few years back…well he still lives there but now he’s got a wife and a house and a job…but at the time of this story he was single, lived in a small studio apartment and…well also had a job, but he was way more irresponsible back then I swear. In stark contrast I was totally responsible as evidenced by having a wife and fetus, two well-known hallmarks of the successfully liable. Well, I only partially owned the fetus, but still.
Anyway, the three of us drove to visit Mark, my son obviously having no choice in the matter as he lived in my wife’s stomach, just kind of kicking it in Mother Nature’s amniotic waterbed, bouncing around, giggling, and generally not having a care in the world.
An unwritten rule about hanging out with my friends is it generally involves drinking, hollering, carousing, and potentially smoking marijuana…and cigarettes. Oh, that reminds me…this one time I was hanging out with Mark (sans my wife) and these other friends of his came over and everyone was smoking weed and drinking Tom Collins like it was no big deal and I felt really cool to just be in the same room with these people, and I thought at any moment Keith Richards would walk in. And then this other guy’s wife drank too many of the CBD sodas I’d brought (I worked for a CBD beverage company at the time) so she left and then these other women came over and I didn’t know them but my instincts told me my wife would not approve of their overt suggestions that they lacked moral compasses. And the cocaine, she definitely wouldn’t have approved of their cocaine. I don’t remember what happened after that. Nothing bad. I told my wife Mark and I saw a movie that night though.
So we’re (wife, unborn child) visiting Mark in his studio apartment and Mark and I are drinking and we’re chain smoking and thus it’s getting really hazy in there despite the fact we’re trying to blow it out the window. At first I was worried for the health of the heir to my lavish estate, but the Miller High Life Mark and I were drinking (my wife stuck to water due to her pregnancy, she was having a good ol’ time though) kind of made me worry less. So it was fine.
Eventually we ran out of stuff to talk about so we decided we should pass out. Mark produced a lovely, visually clean, inflatable mattress that the mother of my child and I snuggled up on, at which point I reminded her how lucky she was to not have to sleep on the floor.
Have you ever rolled down your windows while in a drive-thru car wash? Neither have I, but that’s what it sounds like when Mark snores, except louder. It’s actually closer to a joke snore, like you think there’s no way a human can be making that noise, it must be a device used by Industrial Light & Magic to mimic a tornado or other wind-driven natural disaster.
I may or may not have been snoring even louder than Mark.
It was cacophonic, and my wife was really pissed. Must have been the pregnancy thing. Since it was super hot out (Portland is always ten degrees hotter or colder than Seattle when it comes to extreme temperatures. I think it’s because they’re so liberal), and my wife was understandably upset, I suggested we cuddle up in the front passenger compartment of our Subaru.
She didn’t bother to protest, it was one hell versus another. And we actually got some sleep. Upon reflection I’m surprised we weren’t stabbed/robbed/murdered or at least harassed. By liberals.
The next morning was great. We all went out to a delicious grease-laden breakfast which consisted mostly of my wife making fun of us. I thought I was in the clear for the whole sleep-in-the-car thing, that it wouldn’t ever be brought up or used against me, but I was sorely mistaken. At certain opportune moments, in front of the right audience, my wife will artfully recount that sweaty-to-the-point-our-skin-stuck-to-the-leather night in a truly Machiavellian fashion, somehow making me appear a thick-headed, chivalry-less oaf and leveraging the tale to get what she wants while garnering great sympathy from all listeners. She’s pretty crafty that way. She even claims the car stunk of humid Miller High Life all night, a smell she will never get over, but I think at least on that count she’s exaggerating.
But the real consequence lies with my son and his delightful recognition and consistent exacerbation of my very few documented flaws. I think that steamy night in the Subaru emblazoned in his psyche this ludicrous idea that Dad makes bad decisions, which in Dad’s younger days meant “got caught up in the excitement of hanging out with his friends” and in his older current days means “gets all panicky and overwhelmed when there’s too much happening at once,” but either way means Dad sets a crappy example.
Which is obviously a misconception. Besides, just to set the record straight and send my son on the right path, after blaming my irrational behavior on him, I’m always sure to proffer the parenting universe’s most valuable advice: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
I think my Dad told me that.