Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Single Parent Weekend

Highlights from a single dad weekend:

Saxaphone practice. I sat in the makeshift waiting room, conveniently equipped with a washer and dryer, in case I wanted to do some laundry while the Jawa wailed away nearby. He has taken to this musical instrument, but I am going to hold off a few months before filling his closet with the requisite Hawaiian shirts.

Then he gets a call from his friend Tony Hawk, who wants to have a sleepover way the heck out in Pacific Heights. I am slightly saddened, having planned an evening of father-son bonding, but also wondering if I can find anyone to go see the Long Winters at Cafe du Nord. My old temping friend John is in this band.

Sadly, though John is still hip at 40, I am unable to find anyone to accompany me to this show. Instead, I got to Tower Records and buy several CDs at 15% off. The Jawa has decided to make the sleepover dinner instead, so I would not have been able to go anyway, which is okay, because I kind of wanted the Jawa at home with me anyway. He returns home at 10:00, after a wild ride in Tony Hawk's dad's Porsche. With the top down, even though it's 54 degrees outside.

Hoping, even dreaming that the child would let me sleep in, I awoke at 7:10 to find him standing at the foot of my bed, weak with hunger. As I love anything involving the preparation of food almost as much as I love completing said tasks in the a.m., I enthusiastically sprung forth from the sheets and prepared four frozen waffles. Malnutrition was avoided for another 24 hours.

From there we drove to the Mission for Shack's first day of class. Shocked to find that the Jawa was the only child present, I took a back seat and watched as he held his own among the 42.9% gay couples crowd, making sure that he was listening as Fawn, our instructor, seriously dissed TV's "Dog Whisperer," and then taught us how to get our dog "DOWN!"

We were joined after this by the Shaman for a 30-hour sleepover. Imagine two children encircled by a thick cloud of "Star Wars" miniatures jargon, barely able to see out, me barely able to see in. Words could not penetrate this barrier, so I left them alone. They broke out long enough to spend $10 each at the Low-Fi Customs warehouse sale, and I patted myself on the back for being so hip as to lead two nine-year-olds down a urine-soaked Mission alleyway in pursuit of t-shirts with pictures of motorcycles and skulls on them.

At soccer, several dads and I stood disgruntled on the sidelines, secretly seething as our boys got trounced again. As it is certainly not good politics to notice that our boys get crushed weekly, we formed a small circle in which to shield our complaints from the outside world. Oh, but if the competition were "Star Wars" miniatures, the opposing team would have found themselves in a dog fight.

Not satisfied with my level of hipness, I was determined to reveal even more street cred to my unsuspecting charges. "We'll go to Haight Street," I announced, "and have pizza at Escape from New York." The boys, clad in matching knit hats from Low-Fi Customs, accepted this challenge.

We were joined by Tony Hawk and his father, The Man About Town. They, too, arrived in matching hats, but since they're a little more stylish than us, theirs were Kangols. We accept their elevated sense of style. Tony Hawk shops at Zara, not GAP Kids.

Naturally, being completely ruled by nostalgia, I paused for a moment while the boys pressed their noses against the glass case holding skateboard wheels at FTC. Was it 30 years ago that Dave K. and I haunted the skateboard shops of inland Orange County? Will the Jawa be the same age I was when we moved to California in only one year? And are these boys now old enough that a Saturday night jaunt down Haight Street isn't a novelty to all passers-by?

After all, they led us to the stores they wanted to see. Kid Robot, Giant Robot, FTC, that store with all of the novelty stuff ... we just hung back and watched. I watched. The Man About Town, always working, always learning, occasionally chatted up the store owners to learn more about how they do business. And that's why the Man About Town is the Man About Town and I'm a guy sitting at his laptop.

I began to feel badly for the Shaman. He had taken off his hat, maybe to point out that, of the boys present, he was the one whose dad was in Italy. Had the Wine Guy, his dad, been there, the tableau (my new favorite word, by the way) would have been complete. Instead, like my own Jawa on Grandparents' Day at school, the Shaman had to piggyback on Tony Hawk and the Jawa for Dad time. He was the first to tire of Haight Street, so we went back to the car, pausing frequently so the Man About Town could poke his head into businesses and learn more about them from their owners.

I drove everyone home. The boys went to sleep. I watched Sportscenter.

The Jawa and I (he had joined me at some point during the early morning) awoke at 7:45 to find the Shaman eerily standing in the doorway of my bedroom. More waffles were in order. I was starting to get the hang of this single dad thing.

I took them to Berkeley, to indulge their disgusting side at a Lawrence Hall of Science exhibit called "Grossology." Berkeley is a nice place that would be nicer if everyone who lived there left. As we strolled the Lawrence Hall of Science, joined by the Hammer, who took much of the pressure I felt in my command of two children, I took notice of all the Berkeley people in their sandals, a rainbow of races and ethnicities all wearing and saying the same things. What better place for this than a children's museum?

Perhaps too much joy was taken in learning about burping. Perhaps not enough wisdom was gleaned from the exhibit on nose-picking. Both the Jawa and the Shaman were beginning to wind down, with predictable results: the Shaman lost energy while the Jawa got more combative.

By the time we arrived home, the 49ers were down 42-19 and I was ready to hand the reigns of Alpha Dog back to Sandra Bullock. Two hours passed with me watching football and the Jawa busily shopping online for "Star Wars" miniatures. Finally, completely relaxed from various spa treatments, S. Bullock arrived home. I gratefully walked down the hill to get us burritos, noting that this was the first time I'd been alone for quite some time.

Tomorrow will find us overwhelmed once again, our lives a tangle of school, work, band practice, finding time to feed the dog and meetings at the school. I would manage to make S. Bullock feel guilty enough that she not only bought me a new 12-pack of Black Cherry Vanilla Coke, not only placed it in the downstairs refrigerator, but also opened the box, leaving the first Coke waiting conveniently for me just as it was designed to do.

But tonight, re-united as a family, we rest.


Anonymous Drama Queen said...

I know what you mean about wanting to show the munchkins the groovy, yet seamy, underbelly of this great city. We took my daughter, Greta Gabbo, to an (ostensibly) Indian restaurant in the 'Loin -- Shalimar. (The place is actually Pakistani, but who's counting?) The food was way too spicy for her, and we had to redeem ourselved by Cable Car rides and a trip to Borders for dessert, books, and calendars. The interesting part was that she was totally unfazed by the druggies, hookers, and other interesting "tableaux" presented. She thought it was cool. She still won't go into the Holloween Spirit store or Ripley's Believe it or Not, though!

4:35 PM  
Anonymous flush puppy said...

That is a damn shame that no one would go to the Long Winters show. What is wrong with you people?!!! I can only hope that a) they play the weekend of 11/17 in SF or b) they play in Seattle between Xmas and New Years.

6:19 PM  
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Blogger Dave K said...

The Long Winters are pretty cool. I found a batch of their MP3s here:

And yes, it has taken the skateboard industry 30 years to start reissuing "classic" boards to temp us 40-year-olds to buy our inner 12-year-old's favorite deck:
You can buy a Peralta WarpTail 2 with Bennetts and Kyrptonics for cryin' out loud!

11:22 AM  
Anonymous the hammer said...

Mr. Anonymous has your number. You have such insight on the life and times of our kiddies. This entry was a hoot. If Wine Guy had joined you on your jaunt down Haight, he would have dragged you into Grateful Dead stores. Remember, that's his era and he loved The Dead. Can you picture him at a concert? We went to many, wondering what all those crazy people did to make a living. Oh yeah, we were there and we're relatively normal, aren't we?

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Zin Gal said...

Your music waiting room seems awfully similar to mine, could it be the same one? Could it be Bill? Or do all garage music studios have washer/dryers next to the chair and Charlie Parker posters.

Lived the "Grossology" today taking the gang to hip hop. That was a conversation I never thought I would have with four fourth graders! Burping on demand, Uranus, and then some. Glad I could keep up.

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