Parents – is it just me, or are you some of you shocked by how much your skills have eroded in some areas? I know I am. Here’s my list and my
excuse explanation for each one.
#6 – Small Talk: This is an unfortunate one for me because I actually enjoy small talk. I was great at striking up conversations with random people in supermarkets, doctor’s offices, Starbucks, etc. Heck, in college, I’d walk the halls of the sororities and ask random girls if they wanted to come back to my room to order pizza and make out. Sure I got kicked in the nuts a few times, but surprisingly I ran at a 25% success rate (which is impressive for such a shitty line). Ah, those were the days.
Wait…I just realized that my daughter will be a college student someday, and some idiot will try the same line with her. In about six seconds that college memory made my emotions shift from pride, to discomfort, to shame, to outright fear. Why can’t babies just continue to be babies forever??
Where the hell am I going with this, again?
Oh yeah, so I’m terrible with small talk now. Here’s an example of a conversation I initiated with a random woman during a recent trip to Whole Foods.
Me: “I hear that’s a pretty cool product. Is that for your pregnancy?”
Woman: “I’m not pregnant.”
Me: “Oh, sorry.”
Me: “Is it for weight loss, then?”
Luckily for me, she just walked away – but she easily could’ve thrown her hot coffee in my face instead.
- Explanation: Anyone who knows me understands that I absolutely hate to hurt anyone’s feelings. However, now that I have a kid I’m always in energy-conservation mode, and the energy required to beat around the bush or sugarcoat something isn’t all that appealing to me. Because of that, I’m now more blunt when speaking with my wife, family, and close friends. The problem is that I’m also more blunt with strangers, and that will probably be the catalyst for getting my ass kicked, pepper-sprayed, or arrested in the future. I really need to work on this. Immediately.
#5 – Looking Good: I used to take pride in my appearance and now I just don’t give a damn. For example, we have a supermarket across the street from my condo, and I had to get some food for the baby. I put on a pair of old athletic shorts that were so tight that it probably mutated every healthy sperm housed in my testicles, a ripped tank-top, and a pair of Crocs. People looked at me like I was nuts (or maybe they just looked at my nuts because I’m pretty sure they were poking through my snug shorts), but that’s the beauty of living in Los Angeles: The people who dress like this are actually nuts, so at least I was left alone.
- Explanation: Again, we’re back to effort. Even as a low-maintenance guy with no hair, it takes more effort than I’m willing to give to look good nowadays. The cool part is that I realized something: Why do we spend so much time trying to look good for strangers who don’t give a rat’s ass about us? I’m a happily married family man; should I care that the trendy UCLA coeds at the supermarket think I look like an idiot? To clarify, I’m self-aware enough to know that I absolutely do look like an idiot when I wear my nut-hugging shorts and Crocs in public. I just don’t give a shit anymore.
#4 – Cooking: I’m not saying that I would’ve won Top Chef, but I could throw down in the kitchen back in the day. Chicken Marsala, Vegetarian Lasagna, Taco Salad, and Spicy Asian Noodles were my specialities. Even though Daughter Doin’ Work is around I still offer to cook just as much as before, because no man should expect his wife to prepare every meal. However, I’ve noticed that Mommy Doin’ Work gets really antsy when it’s time for me to prepare dinner lately. My recent go-to-dish is a casserole with elbow pasta, ground turkey, tomato sauce, low-fat sour cream, and mozzarella cheese. Other than what MDW calls it (“shit-can awful”), the dish doesn’t even have a name or a recipe – so in other words, I just wing it Rachael Ray style. It’s not going to win any culinary awards, but if you’re able to work through the stomach cramping, bloating, and severe diarrhea after eating it – it’s actually not so bad.
- Explanation: Now that I have a baby, it seems like food is more for fuel and less for enjoyment. It literally takes me 15 minutes to prep the mystery casserole and almost an hour to prepare the vegetarian lasagna – and with little DDW searching for creative ways to injure herself when not properly supervised, who can spend time whipping up gourmet meals? Additionally, I’m willing to pass on the frills every now and then to spend some quality time with my family or catch up on some sleep…or order take-out.
#3 – Remembering Anything: I can’t remember shit anymore. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t remember to shit if my body didn’t provide clear biological signs that it was time to drop the dirty chocolates (having a kid gives me time to think of creative phrases for pooping). For example, have any of you ever driven to the mall, gotten out of your car, walked into a store and literally stood there for ten minutes wondering why the hell you were there in the first place? Then did you call/text your wife to see if she could clue you in on your reason for being there and she never responded? Finally did you give up, drive home, and figure out that you weren’t supposed to go to the mall at all – but instead realized that you needed to put gas in your car? As the “yellow light of death” flashed furiously in your car, did you drive to the nearest gas station only to run out of fuel and push the car the remaining 50 feet across a busy intersection to the gas pump while people honked and laughed at you?
Has that ever happened to you?
Well…um, me neither.
- Explanation: I forgot.
#2 – Basketball: I was the captain of my college basketball team, and I’ll be the first to pat myself on the back by saying I used to be a pretty good player. I remember watching visiting teams get off of the bus and head into our gym, and some of my teammates would guess which ones were the “Airport All-Stars.” For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology, there are Airport All-Stars in all walks of life. They are the ones you see in airports, gyms, conference rooms, book groups, parties, etc. who absolutely look the part of a specific role when you initially see them (superstar athlete, corporate genius, Super Mommy, etc.), but absolutely suck at the role itself. For example, in basketball it’s the 6’5 muscular brotha with the fancy Nikes, designer athletic shorts, and that unmistakable cockiness that says, “I should be playing professionally right now.” However, once he starts playing, it doesn’t take long to notice that he can’t tell his ass from his elbows on the court.
In business, it’s the guy who shows up to a meeting with his iPad, designer suit, and fancy eyeglasses. By the looks of him, he looks like he should be running a Fortune 500 company – but once he opens his mouth, you realize that he’d be “fortunate” to have worked “500″ total minutes in corporate environment. I had one of these guys in my office last week, and he looked the part of a corporate stud…but then he opened his mouth and said this:
“I think the process elements of this document are egregious, yet innocuous in how they’re described. Ostensibly, we will need to conversate next week to discuss our revisions after due diligence is conducted.”
It took every fiber in my body not to say, “You dumb fuck. Throwing out $5 words improperly makes you look slightly more intelligent than an illiterate person. Also, in what universe is ‘conversate’ a word? Why not just say, ‘we’ll look it over and get back to you in a couple of weeks?’” Corporate people are weird.
It’s also the woman who has her house meticulously cleaned, has well-behaved kids, makes the best whole-wheat french bread, and always has her hair and makeup on-point. Once you do a little digging, you realize that she’s a meth addict, and gives new meaning to the term “Garden Hoe” when the lawn keeper makes his weekly rounds while her husband’s at work.
OK, I think you see where I’m going with this Airport All-Star thing.
Anyway, I went to the park recently to play some basketball. There was a group of high school kids playing and they needed one more player for a full game. When it came time to pick teams, I was the first pick because…well, I’m a 6’2 205 lbs black guy who looked the part of a superstar basketball player. The rest of the players seemed like they were auditioning for extra roles on The Big Bang Theory. I thought, “It’s never fun to compete against inferior competition, but at least I’ll get some exercise in.” I was right about the exercise thing, but dead wrong about everything else. I think those nerds scored more with women in the past week than I scored on the basketball court all day. I probably took 25-30 shots and made none of them. ZERO! My team lost every game we played in, and to make matters worse – I was guarding a 5’6 kid who wore a “I’ll Give You 3.14 Reasons Why I love Pi” T-shirt, and he smoked me harder than an orphaned blunt found at Snoop Dogg’s house. When it came time for the final game of the day, one of the nerds on my losing team asked me, “No offense, but have you played basketball before? You look like you should be really good, but…um, you’re kinda not good.” That experience made the Hot Dad Contest debacle look like the proudest moment of my life.
As I drove home wearing my fancy Nikes and designer basketball shorts, I came to the realization that I am now the Airport All-Star that I used to make fun of in college. Once I told MDW that a nerdy High School kid embarrassed me on the basketball court, she became giddy and said, “Look on the bright side, at least you’ll have good material for your blog. Just don’t tear a ligament typing it all out, grandpa. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll get some warm milk ready and I’ll put Wheel of Fortune on the TV for you.” That’s my wife, ladies and gentlemen.
- Explanation: Are you fucking kidding me? I’d have a better chance of finding Bigfoot and the Lock Ness Monster before dinnertime than attempt to explain how the hell my basketball skills eroded so quickly. Even on my worst day I thought I could handle a bunch of World of Warcraft playing, G4 watching, Comicon attending GEEKS! But clearly I’m not at all bitter or embarrassed by my Airport All-Star status. However, for some reason my eyeballs are starting to get a little sweaty just thinking about this. Let move on, please.
#1 – Being Unhappy: Yes, I know sucking at being unhappy is a double-negative, but it works here. The past 18 months have been so ridiculously awesome that I can’t help but smile at every opportunity, and every challenge is met with youthful exuberance that says, “Let’s do this!” At the end of the day, I’m good with sucking at any of the aforementioned – just as long as I do my best to excel as a father, husband, brother, son, and friend.
And by the way, if any of you find that 5’6 kid, tell him that I want a rematch.