Smile Politely

The stink of my presence

Being the excellent father that I am, I have lately been on the lookout for summertime activities for my kids. One such activity is second-run dollar movies at the Savoy Theater at 10:30 most mornings. This week’s show is Coraline, which I missed in the theaters and wanted to see.

So, I suggested to my 12-year-old daughter that we might go together. It turned out that my wife had already suggested this to her, and my daughter was already organizing an outing with her friends. She was immediately horrified that I might want to go with them.

Being the excellent father that I am, I backed off, and said of course I wouldn’t go with her, knowing what an embarrassment of a human being I am, and how I would never want to saddle her with my presence in any kind of social setting.

However, I did want to see this movie. So, I suggested that I might let them go into the theater to get themselves settled, after which I would buy my ticket and then sneak into the theater. I would sit in the way, way back, even to the very corner itself, so that no one, especially her friends, would know I was there.

Her eyes widened, and a look of horror came across her face. This was clearly an unacceptable turn of events. Staying at home suddenly seemed a lot more appealing to her than going to the movies with her friends. But she did have a suggestion: “Can’t you just rent it if you want to see it?” No, not available yet on DVD.

Being the excellent father that I am, I made one more suggestion. What if I called the theater and found out whether the movie is being shown on more than one screen? I could go in after her, go to an entirely different room, and we could still both see the movie. But alas. The stink of my presence is so terrible that even this arrangement was beyond even discussing. This clearly would put her entire social status at risk, and she has worked too hard for the last year to jeopardize that with my being in the same building at the same time as her and her friends

Based on empirical evidence gathered over the last year, I think I now have a handle on which places are acceptable to be together, and which places are not:

  1. Acceptable: In the car, driving her somewhere she wants to go.
  2. Acceptable: In our house, as long as she is in her room, and I am somewhere else.
  3. Unacceptable: The entire rest of the world.

I would feel bad about this, except that I remember being her age. My parents became astonishingly dorky when I entered middle school (even though objective observers might have claimed they had not changed at all). And the list above pretty much sums up my own rules in middle school.

Being on the other side of it now, I suppose I could demonstrate to my daughter what a truly dorky father is capable of.  After all, I happen to have a lot of life experience in being truly dorky. However, I also have enough life experience to know that a demonstration of that nature would make the world a sadder place. Epecially the Schreiber house part of the world, which is the part I would like to be the least saddest.

So, as Father’s Day approaches, I must take solace that my parents eventually came out of their embarrassing stage to become reasonable people again. Being the excellent father that I am, I suppose I will come out of this stage in a few years too.

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