Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The day I stopped talking out of my butt

I've got a problem.

Well, let me rephrase that—I used to have a problem, but it's much better now.

Here's the problem: I talk out of my butt.

Over the years, I've had a tendency to "guess" the answers to questions, rather than researching them or simply stating, "I don't know."  I used to get away with it with my daughters, mostly because they were too young to challenge me, but now, all three of the women in my house tend to call a bluff when they see it.

I think it's a little bit of a guy thing and a little bit of a dad thing. We want to be experts, especially with our children. In the past, one of my kids might have asked me, "Dad, what's that thing they measure my foot with when we buy shoes?" Since I work in the fashion industry, I'd be compelled to know the answer even though I didn't know the answer.

"Oh, that's a Metallic Instep Calibration Bob," I would reply, "because it's made of metal and it measures your foot was invented by a guy named Bob."

As many of us know, it's called a Brannock Device.

Another past inquiry may have been, "Dad, why don't chickens fly?" Again, rather than looking it up, I'd just say, "Because God wanted to eliminate one step in the process of getting them into our burritos."

I put the brakes on the Talking Out of My Butt Era on January 1, 2007, when I resolved to end this nasty habit for the new year and renew the resolution each following year into perpetuity. It's gone fairly well. In fact, just to compare and contrast, here are some questions and answers, both before and after resolution day:

Question: "Dad, what's that piece of skin at the back of your throat that dangles down?"

Answer, prior to January 1, 2007: "Well, honey, you answered your own question. Depending on your gender, that's either a Jane- or a Jimdangler. It's for brushing off food so it goes down cleanly."

Answer, after January 1, 2007: "Well, honey, that's called a uvula. The uvula plays a key role in the articulation of the sound of the human voice to form the sounds of speech."

Question: "Dad, why do you drink so much coffee?"

Answer, prior to January 1, 2007: "Because, honey, I came down with scurvy as a deck hand on a long cruise, and the Vitamin C in the java keeps me healthy."

Answer, after January 1, 2007: "Because, honey, if I don't, I'll get a throbbing headache which will cause me to drive over lots of road turtles and yell at loud birds."

Question: "Dad, what's Viagra?"

Answer, prior to January 1, 2007: "You know, I'm not sure."

Answer, after January 1, 2007: "Ask your mom."

Question: "Dad, why does your hair keep getting grayer?"

Answer, prior to January 1, 2007: "Because, honey, I made a deal with Satan that for each new gray hair on my head, you will receive one additional day of earthly, self-absorbed bliss."

Answer, after January 1, 2007: "Because, honey, as people age, the pigment cells in their hair follicles gradually die."

So there you have it. I'm now a straight shooter when it comes to answering the tough questions. And yes, Santa is real.

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