You, the loyal reader, the benevolent soul who has kindly carved out a smidge of his or her busy docket to read my anemic diatribes.
You, the compassionate peruser, who has chosen to ingest my drivel while sitting on the porcelain perch after finally growing weary of studying the contents of every Tylenol PM and Kleenex box within reach.
I need you to help me decide whether my recent behavior is the direct result of aging, or merely a by product of a changing familial dynamic.
For as long I can remember, I've been driving my thirteen-year-old daughter to school every Friday morning, stopping on the way to hook her up with a breakfast of questionable integrity. While, for many school years, her meal of choice was an Assiago cheese bagel and chocolate milk, she's now elevated her tastes to more processed fare.
That's why we now stop at 7-Eleven instead of Safeway.
This morning, I looked over at her as she eased herself into the Hyundai. Carefully avoiding any oil puddles or gum wads on the convenience store's well-trodden asphalt, she gingerly clutched her meal of choice—a protein bar with a side of hot chocolate with a side of mini marshmallows.
Engulfed within the car's dull interior, she sparkled. Her hair fell in loose ringlets over a white sweater, a sky blue tank top peaking out to closely match her glittery blue TOMS flats and compliment her indigo skinny jeans. As I merged the dirty sedan onto West Seattle's main drag, she looked over at me, betraying lines of sparkly something-or-other across her eyelids.
She was freaking impeccable.
She sipped her cocoa. "I forgot to brush my teeth today."
"How can you forget to brush your teeth? That's a basic morning thing," I said.
"Okay, just kidding. I decided not to brush my teeth."
"Because my toothpaste has a slight orange taste and I didn't want it to interfere with the hot chocolate or the mint of the protein bar."
"Interfere?" I asked. "Doesn't the flavor wear off after a few minutes? Now your going to school with a nasty mouth."
"I don't care."
I believed her.
"Aren't you worried that someone will notice?"
Again, I believed her.
"Okay, I'm just curious, though," I said. "How can you spend forty-five minutes and be so meticulous with your outfit and hair and everything, but not practice basic hygiene?"
"Brushing teeth isn't basic hygiene, Dad."
She argues with everything my wife and I say. Seriously, everything. My newly–minted teenage daughter has even debated the year my wife was born—with my wife.
We finally just decided to nod our heads, say "Hmmm" and allow her egregious misstatements to evaporate into the ozone like a rusty can of old Aquanet. Not worth it.
And that leads to the question about my own behavior. With all the pregnant silences that have resulted from my kid's cockamamie outbursts, I've been trying to fill in the gaps. The problem is, I sound like a crusty old man. I'll bring up the weather, or the traffic, or how those cherry tomatoes we ate last night were closer to plums than cherries and I think I slept weird on my neck because its really stiff.
Not only have I been boring my family silly with idle idioms and mundane musings, I've been boring myself. Is this as good as it's going to get? Should I just resign myself, when in the presence of my family, to discuss nothing more interesting than the kid I saw littering at the bus stop or how or how expensive Scott's Turf Builder is?
Maybe it's time to buy a Corvette…