Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Good Dad, Bad Dad: Halloween Edition

GOOD DAD: 8:30 a.m.

Good Dad will spend the extra time not only volunteering at his Jawa's school, manning the raffle tickets table during drop-off, but will also be one of only two dads floating amidst a boistrous room of moms who've come for the "All About 4th Grade" meeting.

BAD DAD: 9:00 a.m.

Rather than actually contribute anything of value to the "All About 4th Grade" meeting, Bad Dad instead sits and quietly makes off-handed comments, hoping to undermine whatever value can be derived from the meeting. Eventually, he begins to feel suffocated by all of these women, shut out of their inside jokes about PMS, childbirth and the relative uselessness of boys. Toward the end of the meeting, his mood turns ugly and he replaces his humorous asides with acerbic suggestions that the school's entire mission is to "feminize" his son.

GOOD DAD: 11:00 a.m.

With over an hour to recover from the "All About 4th Grade" meeting, Good Dad devotes the next chunk of his day to finding the missing components of his Jawa's Halloween costume. First, he goes to the sporting goods store at the mall, looking for yellow-tinted goggles (to simulate the glowing eyes of a Jawa) and inexpensive brown gloves.

Unfortunately, these items prove difficult to find. By the time Good Dad reaches the third sporting goods store, he finds himself in big box land, a.k.a. Colma. Limping on his one good leg, he courageously walks the perimeter of the gigantic "Sports Authority" store, only to find that the only goggles available are green and cost $20. Being a Good Dad and docile Jewish man, he makes sure to email a photo of the green goggles to his wife, Sandra Bullock, before making any decisions. She agrees that the expensive green goggles will not work.

"I'm going to Target and calling it a day," he says back.

At Target he finds a nice pair of $5.99 brown gloves. After carefully emailing a photo of them to S. Bullock, he purchases them. This Jawa will have the proper gloves, but no glowing yellow eyes.


This underhanded dad spends the entire trip wondering how to work in some kind of purchase for himself. After all, rare is the sporting goods store that doesn't contain something Bad Dad wants and/or needs. After spending a few minutes at the inexpensive sunglasses aisle, in the hopes of finding another pair of $20 sunglasses, perhaps a pair that are not intended for feminine wear, and then having the additional bonus of being able to point out to Sandra Bullock that, in the end, buying 3 pairs of cheap sunglasses is equal to the financial outlay required for one pair of good ones, he decides that there are no pairs that look less awful than the ones he now owns.

At Target, he flirts with the idea of buying something electronic, a digital camera or clock radio. This kind of investment, though, cannot be made without consulting the breadwinner, in this case S. Bullock. Even Bad Dad knows this.

On the way home, Bad Dad thinks that maybe his reward for this day of errands could be a stop at his favorite Salvadorean grocery store for some pupusas and a Mexican Coke. A quick glance down at his expanding stomach quickly squashes that idea.

GOOD DAD: 3:15 p.m.

Volunteers to have Tony Hawk over for a playdate, in anticipation of the evening's Halloween events. He also reminds Hawk and the Jawa, whose excitement level has left them just short of jumping out of their own skin, to take Shack up to the dog park for some exercise. And then, while the two 9-year-olds immediately suggest that they go down to the nearby playground while Good Dad hangs out with Shack and the weird dog people sharing the park on this day, Good Dad cheerfully agrees, spending his time swiveling his head from the playground to the dog park, and then happily accepting the scolding of some dog woman whose two dogs are on leashes, and could perhaps get very "nervous" at the sight of a ridiculous-looking Corgi 1/5 their height rushing up to them and leaping on them with glee. "You really should stay with your dog," she says, as Good Dad thanks her for the advice.

BAD DAD: 5:00 p.m.

Then puts the children into his car, joined by Sandra Bullock, whose only goal in life, it seems, is to make sure we have flowers when we arrive at the Pacific Heights home of Tony Hawk. As they drive, he forces his charges to listen to an anthology of Sublime's greatest hits, the cover of which boasts that these songs are the original "uncensored" versions with "explicit" lyrics. Bad Dad is too tired to care about this, and so ignores the sidelong glances thrown at him by S. Bullock as the Sublime vocalist explains that because he is able to "get high," and can play the guitar like an Oedipal incest survivor, his day will be okay, no matter what types of drugs his mother is addicted to.

GOOD DAD: 6:00

Arrives at Hawk's home, mingles with the Man About Town and his wife, who the Shaman insists I call "Teddy Bear" though she in no way resembles any bear, but the Shaman is presently sitting on my living room floor doing his homework while my own Jawa continues to find ways to avoid it, so I will give him his way this one time. Good Dad then volunteers to take all of the children trick-or-treating, despite the shooting pains in his leg which, unlike last time he hurt his back, do not seem to be subsiding after a week. He is joined by the Hammer, plus a large contingent of nicely-dressed people who have coalesced around the Man About Town. Within three houses, the Man About Town and his posse have disappeared into the general chaos of Halloween, while the Hammer and the Good Dad are trying desperately to keep up with their pack of sprinting, costumed children.

The Good Dad pauses for a moment to silently marvel at the accurate Jawa costume assembled by Sandra Bullock. His child truly looks like a Jawa, especially as he dashes from house to house, his burlap rope flapping in the nighttime breeze.

BAD DAD : 7:00 p.m.

The Bad Dad cannot help but notice the successful novelist who lives next door to the Man About Town and the Teddy Bear. He has read his novel, which was okay and sold well, but had he not been told by the Teddy Bear that the novelist's wife is perhaps better qualified to build an enormous house such as the one in which they now reside, the Bad Dad would be grinding his teeth in ugly green envy at what he sees as a great global injustice: that a mediocre novelist has become outrageously wealthy while the Bad Dad continues to stare at a blank computer screen each day. In the end, the Bad Dad settles for making fun of the successful novelist's cliched brown felt Indiana Jones hat.

GOOD DAD: 7:30 p.m.

One by one the children drop out of the group. Eventually, all that remains of the original pack is the Good Dad, the Jawa, and Tony Hawk's little sister Natalie Portman. Both children have insisted on continuing the trek, a few times suggesting that we re-visit some of the places we've already been. Good Dad gently reminds his charges that it is tacky to trick-or-treat twice in the same spot.

BAD DAD: 7:35 p.m.

Ponders this and decides that maybe it's not such a bad idea, since all of the houses on the other side of the street are dark and have no pumpkins outside.

GOOD DAD: 7:37 p.m.

Wins this argument. Even as he winces in pain, he tries to do the right thing, though the Jawa and Portman are beginning to complain that their feet hurt.

Good Dad then returns the children to the house, where all of the other adults are relaxing, handing out candy to the multitudes of people who drive their cars to Pacific Heights and trick-or-treat there.

BAD DAD: 8:15 p.m.

Silently complains to himself that his leg is killing him and he's tired and really wants to go home, ignore his family and his dog and watch TV alone with perhaps a bag of tortilla chips and a Coke at the ready. To amuse himself, he teaches the children something he learned while listening to Jim Rome on the radio today. "If someone asks me what I'm dressed as," Bad Dad tells his rapt, sub-10-years-old audience, "I'm going to say, 'I'M A FREAKING GROWN-UP, YOU LOSER!" The children love this. It takes only a few reminders before they are shouting it to each other, to their parents, to strangers on the street.

GOOD DAD: 9:00 p.m.

The evening winds down with Good Dad pleasantly minglingwith the other adults, even the ones he does not know well. He does not yell at his child when the child ignores his pleas to "put on your shoes!" and then calmly explains that the child cannot spend a half hour "sorting his candy" upon arriving home, as it will be 9:15 by then and no one who is 9 years old, no matter how jacked up on sugar, is allowed to stay up until 9:45 on a school night.


But when the father in question repeats "Do your homework!" 45 times to a child who is determined to ignore him, no matter how loud his voice gets, is he being Good Dad or Bad Dad?


Anonymous zelda said...

good dad or bad dad, forcing homework on Halloween night?

my answer: yes.

another hilarious post as usual.

and guess who got to deal with them all at 8:15 this morning? yes, that would be me. it was enough to give me shooting pains not just in my leg (what's going on with that by the way? how can you lead tours if you cannot walk?) but throughout most of my body.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous flush puppy said...

One of your best yet, I concur (brought me out of a bad-friend-induced-funk). Though how you can eat something that sounds like a part of an insect is beyond me. BTW, those people in that 4th grade meeting should thank their lucky stars you were only commenting quietly.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Drama Queen said...

As one of "those people" in that 4th Grade meeting, I wish you hadn't been commenting quietly. Don't worry, NO ONE could ever "FEMINIZE" the Jawa! There are no anitdotes to testosterone strong enough!!! Sounds like your Night of Pagan Chocolate Foraging and Eating was a bit zestier than ours! There are sooooo many good 'hoods out there distributing stuff!

11:19 AM  
Blogger Lefty said...

i'm not sure if i've mentioned it before, drama queen, but i absolutely love your repeated use of the word "zesty," both in print and in person.

11:35 AM  
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