Monday, May 22, 2006

The Dark Curtain Unfolds

I would like to apologize to every human being I came in contact with Sunday, from the Jawa, who had to endure 90 minutes of wild-eyed road rage to the Hammer, who I left standing at Tamalpais High School without even saying goodbye. It wasn't a good day.

Generally, I am not one to let fly with venomous, midguided Susanesque rants. Generally. More likely, you will see instead a slow burn, strangely aloof behavior, or the sudden, unexpected complete loss of patience and social skills. This, unfortunately, was what two campuses full of BHDS children and parents were exposed to at yesterday's Walk-a-thon. To my credit, I'll bet very few of them actually realized that I was in a lousy mood.

Oh, but I was.

I spent last week mostly at home, thinking I was taking it easy. In fact, I was mourning the death of my deal, and hiding from my fellow BHDS parents. As May is Jewish party month, I find that, as the month comes to a close, so does my desire to attend Jewish parties. Or any parties. Or talk to anyone. Not many people expect Lefty to go down the rabbit hole, but he sometimes does. This is one of those times.

But I needed to take the Jawa to his walk-a-thon, and so we set out, Sunday morning, giving ourselves time to get around the Bay to Breakers race, an "only in San Francisco" event where they take something boring (a 7.4 mile race) and adorn it with naked guys, feathers, people dressed as the Fruit of the Loom guys, and a few serious racers. The race effectively cut the city in two until late Sunday afternoon, making it nearly impossible to get from Glen Park (our home) to Mill Valley (site of the walkathon).

We tried to go around it to the east, with no luck. Twenty minutes of sitting, parked, in Embarcadero traffic, and we decided to head West. One hour of squealing tires, illegal u-turns, man- and child-sized rants involving the word "idiots!" followed, the whimsical costumes of the Bay to Breakers transformed into hideous, demented masks. Finally, we crossed the park, but not until well after the walkathon was to begin. A debate ensued.

"I am NOT going to be late!" (Jawa)
"I'm afraid we're already late." (Me, ruefully)
"Idiots!" (J)
"It's not their fault. Actually, it's your school's fault." (M)
"It's NOT my school's fault." (J)
"Yeah, it is. It was stupid to schedule this the same day as the Bay to Breakers." (M)
"My school is not stupid!" (J)
"No, no, but doing this was stupid." (M)
(frustrated crying)(J)

Bad dad.

By the time we arrived, I was in no mood to talk to anyone, least of all the people I'd been talking to non-stop for the past nine months. It was in no way their fault, all mine. A week in the basement had made me a misanthrope. I did not want to talk about the Soccer Coaching Conspiracy, next year's bookfair, the upcoming board dinner, Friday's slumber party (and the Jawa's failure to fall asleep before midnight). Mostly, I wanted to read the paper or maybe talk about what a lousy mood I was in.

Last year, I walked several laps of the walkathon with the Jawa. It was a great bonding moment. This year, nothing. I hid and read the paper. I sneered at my good friend (and great person) Mr. San Francisco, threw out snide comments to the good-natured baby boomer band playing classic rock ("Do you guys know anything written after 1980?"), and generally, to paraphrase their hero Jerry Garcia, "had bad vibes coming off me as other have sweat."

Then it started raining. The poor Jawa, who had already suffered two injuries in the jumpy houses, begged to stay longer. "No!" I snarled, shocking my friend Jenny from the Block, who had earlier led a massive mobilization to get me a Benadryl when my allergies started acting up.

As we walked back to the car, a half hour earlier than the Jawa wanted but just in time to avoid a downpour, we passed a high school baseball game. I paused and watched one pitch, just one, but that was enough to remind me that if I'd just seen that an hour ago, I could have passed one blissful hour watching amateur baseball, and maybe that would have been enough to take the edge off.

An hour later we were home. I presented the dirty, tired Jawa to S. Bullock, dropped the lawnchairs that she made us bring but we never used on the floor and walked directly downstairs. The feeling of being irritated by everyone and everything had taken an actual physical toll. I couldn't even read the paper, as it, too, was full of irritating opinions and ideas, so I flipped on some baseball, or maybe basketball, or maybe it was that show about guys fishing for crab in Alaska. It didn't really matter. I closed my eyes and fell alseep.

So my apologies to my peers and their children, to baby boomers, Marin parents, hapless San Francisco drivers, my wife and my own child. When I turn to the dark side, it's generally quiet, but no less ugly than it would if I were a demonstrative grouch.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, I think we will take our own car on Thursday night! Thanks anyway!

3:59 PM  
Anonymous The hammer said...

No apology necessary. Didn't someone once say (to paraphrase a line from Love Story) that friendship means never having to say you're sorry? I didn't really notice that you were in a bad mood. At least you didn't pledge $5.40/lap and have Jawa decide that walking was peaceful, 21 laps later. Sleep is good. Get lots of rest before Thursday night. Jawa is in good hands, with parents, friends and friend's parents.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous ZinGal said...

Sometimes you got to know when to punt. Find a ride for the kids and then stay in your robe reading the paper till noon listening to the soothing sounds of helicopters hovering outside your door. The bay to breakers finish line just blocks from your house. The rabbit hole is a good place.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous flush puppy said...

man, it's a good thing you didn't crash into a car with a bunch of guys with guns in gym bags.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Ken Dunque said...

What's going on Thursday night that I'm not invited to?

I'd like to acknowledge Lefty's excellent new use of 'hyperlinks' in his blog, please try to keep them as self-referential as possible.

Perhaps your Sunday emotional crash was brought on by the Sam Adams variety pack we worked on the night before?

8:58 PM  

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