Friday, May 28, 2004



"How was the technology summit?" LZ asked.

(This being the first joke, as LZ knows better than to ask questions like this. As a matter of fact, this upcoming* story is, in a sense, a structured version of what I would tell LZ if she had been careless enough to ask.)

*upcoming - a word much favored by local news newscasters, as in "Upcoming! After this break! More local news!"

Moreover, whenever I hear "upcoming" I see Flounder vomiting on Dean Wormer and then reflexively hope against hope to see a local newscaster/sportscaster/weatherperson projectile vomit Live! But it hasn't happened yet.

"The what?" I ask, pretending to be distracted and not overly interested in relaying the nonsense of the day - if I had actually been asked, that is.

And anyway, I'd already told her the good parts, having called three times during the day.

"The technology summit," LZ said.

"You mean the Directors' and IT Managers Diversity and Technology Summit?" I asked.

(I may have to go back and fix that. I usually have the "I" of these narratives maintain a flat affect. I don't want him going all broad and sarcastic on me. It could ruin the effect.)

"I can't really talk about it now," I said. "I'm going to go write it up for the blog. I'll put your questions and comments in for you, and you can read it later."

(If I want your opinion....)

"You can't go on the computer," LZ said. "The Things are using it to learn how to read."

"Don't they have computers in the preschool for that?" I asked.

TO BE CONTINUED (as soon as I can get to a computer)

Friday, May 21, 2004


"Daddy, can we get a new house some day?" Thing One asked.

Nascent social climbing, I wondered, or just a vague innocent feeling that she somehow deserved better? I decided to proceed slowly.

"What kind of house are you thinking of?" I asked.

"Daddy, I would like a white house," Thing Two said.

With Two it's always the aesthetics.

"Daddy, I want a house that's not so far away," One said.

She must feel cheated, being so far out in the sticks, I thought. I feel the same way myself sometimes.

"So far away from what?" I asked.

"From school."

"Oh," I said. "Is the bus ride too long?"

"No, Daddy. I like the bus ride."

"The bus ride is too long!" said Two.

"Daddy, if we lived closer to school, we wouldn't have to get up so early, but we could still have a long bus ride."

"I said," stomped Two, "that the bus ride is too long!"

"Did you know," I asked, "that pretty soon you will be going to another school, one that is much closer?"

"Maybe," said One, "we could get another house just for a little while, then move back to this one."

"I would do it," I said. "But you know how Mommy is. I don't think she'd want to go to all the trouble."

They thought on that for a second, then both nodded sadly. Mommy was the fly in the ointment. There was no way around it.

FInally, Two broke the silence.

"Daddy." Two said, "What is fire made of and why does water put it out?

"Look," I said. "Here comes your bus now. You can ask Mommy about fire and water when you come home. Have a good day now."

Monday, May 10, 2004



I ran into B in the lobby of our building the other afternoon.

"Can I borrow five dollars?" she asked. "Just until I get back upstairs."

I knew it was futile, but I made a show of taking out my wallet and checking. "Sorry," I said. "I only have a dollar."

"Really," she said. "You really only have a dollar?"

"That's it," I said.

About fifteen minutes later B came over to my desk.

"I'm sorry if I embarrassed you downstairs," she said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Those people in line, I'm pretty sure they all heard you only had a dollar."

"I'm not embarrassed," I said.

"Really," B said. "I'd think you'd be embarrassed."

"I don't have much of a sense of shame, at least for financial stuff," I said.

"Could I ask you a question?" B said. "How do you leave the house with only a dollar? What if you need something?"

"Well, if something came up I have an ATM card and credit cards," I said. "It's not like I couldn't get money if I needed it."

B was laughing. "Still," she said, "who leaves the house with only a dollar? It's crazy."

"Actually, I didn't really leave the house with only a dollar," I said. "The day's almost over. I got gas this morning, bought coffee, and bought lunch. A dollar's just what I have left."

B laughed even harder. "Only a dollar," she repeated. "Wait until I tell my husband this one."

That got me to thinking. Exactly how much a source of amusement was I to her? What other "ones" had she told her husband about? Was I the office eccentric? I always thought she was providing me with material. Who knew it went both ways? And what to do about it?


On our way out the next morning I brought it to LZ.

"She's right," LZ said. "You shouldn't leave the house with only a dollar."

"With her, it's embarrassment and shame. With you, it's a moral imperative," I said.

"It's not morals," LZ said. "It's common sense."

"Is there a supposition that I have a big bag of money stashed somewhere in the house and every day I peel off one dollar bill and place it carefully in my wallet? I asked. "Is that what the two of you are getting at? And anyway, I told you I didn't start with just a dollar."

"You know what I mean," LZ Said. "It's irresponsible. What if something happened?"

"I can envision this happening," I said. "A guy tries to mug me in the parking garge and he gets enraged because I only have a dollar and he pistol whips and stomps me for being poor. Is that what you mean?

"I thought you said you got gas," LZ said. "Because you're almost out."

Thursday, May 06, 2004


Thing Two has a question that comes out more as a statement: "We are poor, aren't we Daddy?"

"Well, Two" I say, "that's a relative term. Do you know what poor really means?

"Yes I do," Two says. "No money left. Spent it all."

"In that case, you're correct," I said. "We're just about out of money. How do you think that happened?"

One is jumping up and down. "I know, I know," she says.

"What is it?" I asked.

One sweeps her arm majestically across the room, pointing out the expanse of stuffed animals, the piles of games, the mounds of books, the colorful plastic toys, the towers of blocks, the monstrous miscellany that has taken over vast sections of the house..

"Look," she says. "We buyed everything!"

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