Thursday, April 24, 2014

Get Over Yourself, Ponytail Boy.

My older daughter turned nineteen yesterday.

It was her first birthday away from home and the beginning of her last year as a teenager. 

Holy shit.

Lately I’ve been trying to hoard my “holy shit”s a little…

…but since this is about me and not her—holy shit, next year, a twenty-year-old will call me Dad. 

But you know, not the same way Johnny Depp’s twenty-year-old does.

Last night, we Facetimed as she rode back from dinner. Her face, illuminated in the iLight, glowed in the darkness as she and a friend sped up I-5 back to campus. Gazing at us were those beautiful, big brown eyes she inherited from her mom.

My wife spoke first. "Hi Honey. Happy birthday! How was Olive Garden?”

“Great, like always. But we missed the exit so the next one wasn’t until Tullalip.”

At this point, my wife asked the question so obvious to everyone in the world except her and apparently, her friend: “Why didn’t you turn around?” 

“I don’t know. Dad, I tried to call you today. Russell Wilson is getting a divorce.”

“Yeah, I heard.” 

“Best birthday present ever.”

Nice. Her infatuation the Seahawk quarterback is about as subtle as a ball peen to the shin bone. She’s got a couple of “Russ” posters up in her dorm room, plus a phone case and “Hustle like Russell” t-shirt. 

“You don’t need to be happy when someone gets divorced,” said my wife.

“I’m not happy for his wife at all, but I’m happy for me.” Touching. 

Her head whipped back. “Oh, no.”

“What?” we both said. 

“I left my keys at Olive Garden. Aaagh! And we’re almost back at school.”

“How long have you been driving?” I asked her.

“I don’t know, about an hour.”

Silence. My wife and I looked at each other, our faces tilted at similar "not my problem" angles.

“You should call Olive Garden to make sure they’ve got them,” said  my wife.

“Yeah, I guess so. Okay, well, bye, I guess.”

“Happy birthday!” we said. “We love you.”

“I love you too. Bye.”

You know, you can only do so much to supply the tools. When she was an infant, due to earthquake risk, we avoided driving on the rickety Alaska Way Viaduct to and from her daycare. During the forty-five-minute trip, only classical music soothed the confines of our ’95 Kia. I’d read that classical scales stimulate the synapses in a baby’s rapidly forming brain, thereby enhancing math and musical prowess. 

Hey, for all I knew, the future inventor of corn dog trees sat back there, her damp fingers grinding goldfish into the stained seat of her Fisher Price.

Yeah, get over yourself, ponytail boy.

Nineteen years later, It’s a little painful to watch others pay the price for her miscues. Last year, we would have accompanied her on the two-hour detour back to Olive Garden. Fortunately at least, kids tend to suffer one another’s discombobulation with a socialist bent.

And definitely some money for gas.

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