Friday Five

Five things I had at 19 that my step son doesn't (and most likely never will).

A Pager:
Try explaining to yourself the whole concept of a pager. Weird right?

A CD Player:
Sure his computer can play CD's, but a boom box or even a DiscMan would look as outdated on his bedroom floor as a turn table would have looked on mine.

A Carburetor:
Sure he doesn't even have a car, but if he did, nothing but fuel injection, baby.

A Cigarette:
In my first apartment, we never did laundry, dishes, or vacuumed, so the place smelled like sweat, vomit, beer and death. And yet we smoked outside because it was that foul.

I still mourn the loss of MTV. Sure it was not quite as on demand as YouTube, and we had to twitter with our friends through a rotary phone and eight miles of extended curly cord. And it was filtered and sanitized from all the indie hipster rock that is the staple of the listening audience today. But who among us doesn't feel the phantom tingle of Headbanger's Ball and Yo MTV Raps? Who among us doesn't ache with nostalgia over the full length version of Thriller or the first four chords of Smells like Team Spirit? Video may have killed the radio star, and some of us were blinded by science, and girls were having fun and giving love a bad name. When Alannis and Sheryl weren't so uncomfortable to look at and we were young enough to think Brittany Spears was hot and not the creepy pedophiles we would appear to be today. Pre Karaoke. Pre Reality TV. Pre Pink Ribbons, but smack dab in the middle of the war on drugs and the AIDs epidemic. The industrial revolution and the speed with which technology evolves insuring that my life will be nothing like my fathers, nor my sons. MTV was our little slice of awesome.

Its That Simple

I was a little shocked when she told me that she had separated from her husband. They hadn't been married for really more than two (maybe three) years, and although I knew nothing about him, I may have shook his hand once, she seems a relatively down to earth person. Smart, funny, attractive, capable. So despite my having never really known the man, I must admit that my final impression of him was that he was clearly too dumb to enter the gene pool and good riddance.

Cause really? How tough is it to keep a woman happy?

Sure, scoff as you might, but think about it for a moment. Is there ever any question as to what is going to make your woman happy at any given moment? Follow me here, cause I can see your eye's rolling, but I'm entirely serious.

Exhibit A: Your wife is cleaning the house. The trash is full. Do you take out the trash, or do you turn on the TV?

Exhibit B: Your wife is coming home from a tough day at the office. What do you hand her first, the baby with a dirty diaper, or a glass of wine?

Exhibit C: Its her birthday/christmas/mothers day. Do you get her anything else? Or do you get jewelry?

You may think I'm over simplifying, but think about it, every moment is an A or B decision. There is a decision that is going to make her happy, and there is a decision that will not. And these are not complex algorithmic hypotheses. Do you mow the lawn? Yes. Do you empty the dishwasher? Yes. Do you choose the restaurant? Yes. (if she doesn't like that restaurant, or has something else in mind, she'll say "What about that new little Italian place?") When she say's "What about that little italian place?" do you say "That sounds even better than the stupid place I was thinking!"? Yes, yes you do!

And why always jewelry and not, let's say, the same value in lottery tickets? The answer should be obvious, but if it's not let me take you down to the pub for a little genetic common sense.

Men compete to show off how good a provider they are. Women compete to show off what a good provider they can snag. Jewelry acts as a great modern neon sign that says "Not only can he feed me and keep my children out of the rain, but he can buy me useless crap as well. The sheer frivolity of this jester shows that he is more man than yours." Just watch what happens to a woman when another women compliments her on her earrings. Watch her light up like a pyramid of coals drenched in kerosene.

The reason she can't stand to see you on the couch is because come Monday morning, the woman whose husband built the life size tree house out back gets her first pick of the cupcakes over the woman who's husband lost yet another week of fantasy football. Its ugly, but its office politics.

The point I'm getting to is: The answer to making her happy is invariably simple. This does not, of course guarantee a life of fulfillment or copious amounts of casual monkey sex, but it will generate some easy coexistence and more than your fair share of peaceful sunday afternoons with which to watch your fantasy football team lose once again.

So in truth, when a woman leaves a man, it can only be for two reasons. Either he is too stupid to know these things, or too much of an asshole to care. All men fall along this spectrum, but it can take decades before a woman has finally decided that no amount of passive aggressive behavior is going to fix his being an asshole. No one wants to admit their man is an uncaring asshole, because why would he want to see her naked all the time if he didn't care about her needs.

Now, I'm not too dumb to recognize that there are some exceptions, and I'm also not making a case for why men would leave women (we'll save that subject for long after my wife is dead, or can no longer read), but my friend would never have left her husband for superficial reasons like he had gotten a little too fat or maxed out their credit cards on shoes. In fact, had he maxed out their credit cards on shoes, that might have bought him another ten years, or at least until the day when she realized there was no shoes that matched her new evening dress.

Nope, he was just stupid. And too bad for her. Its hard to peel that mask and find the truth underneath. So much stuff that hindsight sees plainly is shrouded by the fun and exhilaration of the first few years of touching, tasting, laughing and loving. All that adrenaline bleeds out into a puddle of passion, understanding, indifference, pure rage, and if you're lucky, a mature way to express those feelings. And if not, you're left with a lot of regret and an empty bag of nacho chips.

So why write about this in a space dedicated to being Dad? Because being Husband is one of the most important things about being Dad there is. More and more I'm inclined to believe that we don't choose our mates as much as they are thrust upon us. And we don't get to choose how we feel about everything all the time. We don't get to choose what we want to eat, but we do get to choose what we do eat, and how much, and how often. And sometimes we are seduced by the bag of nacho chips, especially the ones that say positive things "No Artificial Flavors, No Preservatives, Low Sodium" and the like. Oh, we might know how wrong we're being and where we fall on the Too Stupid/Don't Care spectrum, but life is chaos, and love is delirious and the master is as flawed as the pupil.

So ten, twenty, thirty years down the line when his mate like comet bursts into his atmosphere from an afternoon at the beauty parlor, I want to make sure that he's going to be smart enough to tell her how pretty her nails are and then ask her if there's anything she needs him to do before the game begins.

Because, that boys, is how simple it is.

The Friday Five:

Five words you are no longer allowed to use:

1) Literally
Because it doesn't mean what you think it means. You didn't literally die, but I do however, literally want to slap you for saying it.

2) Awesome
When everything is awesome, nothing is.

3) Snap
Just say "fuck" like a man

4) Like
It is not like okay to use the word like for like any like reason other than liking something, or you are literally Moon Unit Zappa.

5) Really?
Cause the answer to that . . . Is literally.

Wait Dad Begins

Wait . . . Dad?


Do most people play songs, or do most people play music?

What do you mean?

Well . . . there are songs, and then there is just music. Sooo . . . do most people play songs or do most people play music?

Songs, I guess.

Oh . . . but why do most people play songs?

Well, songs are familiar. Most people play songs over and over. Songs tell a story. Songs describe things.

Oh . . . so songs are like adjectives?

Um, Yeah.

I said "yeah", but what I really meant to say was "That's one hell of a logical literary leap there little guy, I'm very proud of you."

But for one reason or another I just said "yeah" and let it drop.

Once again I am rendered speechless with both horror and fascination by the evolution of my darling progeny. One minute he's the frantic monkey creature that leaves a trail of candy wrappers and tiny socks strewn about my house and the next minute he's waxing poetic about the fundamental differences between song structure and randomly putting two notes together for the purpose of putting two notes together.

And he's evolving fast.

Castle Park has been hanging on the precipice of finality for four months now. I've got three recording sessions left before I let the mixing magicians do their magic.

On my first album this stage lasted almost three years. Recording wrapped up during the summer of 2005 and the album didn't hit the world wide web until the spring of 2008.

I guess I'm not very good at goodbyes.

Castle Park started off as an experiment.

Traditionally I was taught as an artist that I would have to shut everything out and focus on the art. And there is a truth to that. Tough to embrace the creative ether when you have to start dinner in twenty minutes.

But I didn't want to make that sacrifice.

I wanted to be a good dad. I wanted to be a good husband. I wanted to be a good guy. I wanted to be a good songwriter. And I wanted to bring it all together and make this life some grand cerebral adventure. My life would inform, and my work would flow at its own pace.

I was.

I am.

And I still want to be.

I think.

The jury will be in recess till my death.

So the verdict is none of my concern.

And like my son's desperate need to grow up, it is time that this adventure evolves too. Time to get serious. Time to grow up. Time to take these lilting ideas and start nailing them to the wall. Cause you can't have an exhibition without something nailed to the wall.

True fact.

And where we go from here is all about who we are now. Who I am now.

But, who am I?

That's a tough question.

A tough question that is easily answered by the six year old bouncing about the hardwood flooring with a sword in one hand and a pan flute in the other.

Who am I?

I am Wait Dad

Because that is what the boy calls me anytime he has something to say.

Wait Dad.

And why does he call me thus?

Because for anyone who knows him, or has at least been following along, Calvin needs to pause anytime he is processing something. You can see the Pin Wheel of Death spinning around in his multi faceted brain with each new piece of information, and there will be no distractions. His only recourse is to stop me from going the direction I want to go.

A common occurrence is as follows:

Did you finish your homework?

Wait . . . Dad?


Do most people drive automatic, or do most people drive manual?

Automatic. Did you finish your homework?

Wait . . Dad?


Which is easier?

Manual. Did you finish your homework?

Wait Dad?

Did you finish your homework?

How can manual be easier when you have to do so many things?

Automatic is easier to learn, but its easier to control the car with a manual. What's the status of your homework?

Wait Dad?


Does grandma drive an automatic or a manual?

And then there will be silence about the topic for a few days, when in a moment of quiet contemplation, Calvin will bound up onto the couch:

Wait . . . Dad?


I think automatic is easier.


So now that we've got the "Who", we need to go into the "What?"

I find that I am not just Wait Dad to my son. I am Wait Josh at work, Wait Honey at home, and Wait Dude in the studio.

And as furious as I get sometimes with the distraction and the constant repeating and the constant disruption and the needs of those around me, it is those needs that define who I am. Every interaction is needs based. You don't engage unless there's something you want. Nobody interrupts a twelve hour marathon of Band of Brothers just to say hi, just as I don't cuddle up to my wife just to tell her how beautiful she is, even though that's exactly what I say.

Because Wait Dad is more than just a name. Its a modus vivende. A modus operandi.

Way of Life. Way of Operation.

Wait Dad is all of us men. Men who are lovers and brothers, fathers and mechanics, chefs and maids, bosses and underlings. Men who are cornerstones for the people around us. Men who are shallow and weak when no one is looking.

Wait Dad is for the guy who loves his children, loves his cars, thinks his wife is hot and only wishes she would slut it up a bit. Wait Dad is for the new generation of men who like golf and nachos, are concerned about the environment, drives an SUV, drinks a bottle of wine per night and tries to limit his carbohydrate intake. Wait Dad wants to put the band back together, but is unwilling to clean out the garage during fantasy football season.

Wait Dad is the modern man/artist/husband/father/awesome.

Wait Dad is adjective.

and Wait Dad is not for the white wine spritzer crowd.

Unless of course you like that sort of drink.