We’ve all had moments when there is an opportunity to appear cooler than we actually are, but then something unexpectedly happens and our lack of coolness is revealed to those exact people we were trying to impress. This is one of those stories.
If you’ve been a follower of this blog, then you know that I represent some recognizable actors, writers, and directors. One of my clients happens to be one of Justin’s favorite characters on a show that was recently cancelled. Occasionally, you can still catch it in reruns.
One afternoon, Justin was in my office when I needed to call this particular actor to go over scheduling for an upcoming appointment. (I usually keep work and family separate, but this was one of the few times I didn’t mind crossing that line…because I thought it would make me look cool in front of my son.) As I was dialing the phone, I quickly explained to Justin who I was calling. I told him that I would put the call on speakerphone so he could hear the actor’s voice, but he was forbidden from making any sounds. Excitedly, Justin agreed.
The phone rang once.
The phone rang a second time.
On the third ring, the client picked up the phone and in a jovial manner exclaimed, “WHAT UP, BITCH!?!?”
I have to give Justin credit. He was dying of laughter, yet managed to keep silent…even as he fell to the floor in hysterics. My moment of cool was gone. Karmically, I probably had it coming.
I maintained my professional demeanor, responded with, “Hi there! How are you?” and pretended like my son didn’t just hear me get called “bitch” by someone he’s a huge fan of.
I have a story to share. Before I do, you should be warned. This story does not make me look like a good person. I was an asshole. I used my own child’s misery to get what I wanted. And, there is some mild animal endangerment in this story. Well…more like “Equine Mockery.” (I may have hurt the horse’s feelings, but that was about the extent of it.) Allow me to explain…
On Sunday, I took Garrett to a pumpkin farm. We arrived at 4:45, but I knew that the farm closed at 6pm. For a little more than an hour, Garrett ran around and played on the pumpkins, hid in the maze, climbed on the tractor, and bounced in the bounce house. Finally, at 5:45pm I convinced him to come and look for a pumpkin with me. Covered in sweat, dust, and some boogers, Garrett happily agreed to leave the play area with me.
As we made our way to the back of the farm, I noticed that they were giving pony rides. I asked Garett if he wanted to ride to pony and excitedly he said, “YES!!” So, we got in line and waited…and waited…and waited.
While standing in line, I noticed that the people around us had yellow tickets. I asked the family behind me what the ticket was for and was informed that we needed to buy a ticket in order to ride the pony. So, I knelt down and explained to Garrett that we needed to go back to the front of the farm to get a ticket for the pony. He put his hand in mine and together we went to get the ticket.
When we reached the ticket booth, I told the woman who was tending the booth that we would need one ticket. She replied, “No more horse rides.”
As I held Garrett’s hand, I asked again. “It’s only 5:59pm. Would it be possible to get one ticket for my son to ride the pony?” And again (without apology) she told me, “No. The pony rides are closed.” (Off in the distance, you can see that the ponies were still going around and around.)
I decided to take a different approach with The Horse Dictator. “Please make an exception. We’re only here once a year and my son has been looking forward to this.” Once again, she said, “No.”
Garrett was about to become the best wing-man of all time and didn’t realize it. As soon as he realized that she was not going to let him ride the pony, he began the “pre-cry whimper.” I could see the tears welling up in his eyes and I knew she saw it too. But, I also recognized that she was not going to be motivated into action by tears alone. With Garrett about to cry, I leaned in to the woman and deepened my voice. “Look. We’ve been standing in that line for 10 minutes. (True) There are no signs explaining that we’d need a ticket to ride the pony. (True) And when we did finally get to the front of the line to get on the horse, we were told to come here and get a ticket. (Not true.)” And I finished with, “….had we known all that, my son would be on the horse right now and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. (Technically, true)” Clearly, she understood that my tone had changed.
With a huff, she said, “Fine. I’ll ask if your son can ride.” And with that, she stormed off towards the horse area. I grabbed Garrett by the hand and followed her. When we got back to the horses, I saw The Horse Dictator speak with the young man running the ride. All I heard him say was, “Well…the horses are tired.”
I wasted no time and injected my thoughts into the conversation. With attitude and sarcasm, I responded, “What do you mean ‘the horses are tired?’ They’re horses! Do you know what they call ‘tired horses’ in other countries? FOOD!” (Yes, I really said it.)
The Horse Dictator whipped her head around and glared at me. The man running the pony ride actually chuckled and gave in. “Ok, come on. Your son can be on the last ride.” I thought The Horse Dictator’s head was going to explode.
Begrudgingly, she walked over to me and said, “That will be 6 dollars.” I had 6 singles on me. But, I’m a dick and I didn’t take kindly to her attitude. Instead, I handed her a 20 dollar bill and told her I wanted a shirt as well, plus my change. I did that knowing full well that she’d have to walk all the way back to the front of the farm to get the shirt and the change and then walk all the way back to find me.
So, as far as I’m concerned, this story has a happy ending. My son got to ride a horse named “Brownie”….and I got to torture The Horse Dictator.
The art of negotiation is alive and well in my house. Both GWE and I heavily rely on our negotiating skills on a daily basis both personally and professionally. So, it should come as no surprise that our sons have absorbed all of our conversations, tactics, (and some cases) my ‘colorful’ language and attempted to use their new-found skills against us.
Justin is figuring out how to negotiate, but he does not understand the concept of ‘leverage.’ He needs to have something I want in order to begin a negotiation with me….specifically for the Nintendo Wii U he has so anxiously craved for the past year. Many of his conversations have begun with, “Daddy. You will get me a Wii U if I’m nice to my brother for a year, right?” I then have to (again) explain to him that there are certain things I require him to do without expecting any form of gratitude in return. These include: be nice to your brother, clean your room, flush the potty after EVERY use, etc. I have told him that ‘if’ I see grades that I’m pleased with, then we can begin the Nintendo negotiation.
Garrett not only figured out the art of negotiation, but he also recognizes the power of cold….hard…cash! No more Legos. No more stuffed animals. He wants cash so he can get his own toys!
In Garrett’s kitchen, he has a cash register filled with fake money. The more he accumulates, the happier he is. (Smart kid.) However, as we continue to work on his potty training, I need to make sure that he’s actually doing something while sitting on the potty. Like any good negotiator, Garrett recognized that I wanted something…and that he wanted something…and so, he began to negotiate.
“Daddy! Here’s the deal,” he announces, like he’s doing me a favor. “I’ll let you look at my poopoo, but I want money.” See – he’s got the leverage on me because I need to make sure he did something in the toilet before he gets off. And, he’s specific about what he wants – CASH! What he doesn’t realize is that I’m robbing his cash register and paying him with his own money. So, it’s a win for both of us! (Except for last week when Justin caught Garrett taking my debit card out of my wallet and trying to hide it in his ‘secret drawer.’ That’s another story.)
I’ve paid thousands of (fake) dollars over the past few weeks for the honor of seeing my son’s poop. I don’t know what the going rate for poop viewing is, but I suspect I’ve raised the limit!
In my quest to locate turn-of-the-century, Railroad Grade pocket watches (my expensive hobby), I’ve begun dragging my family to flea markets. The first time we attended a flea market, we were nearly killed by gusting winds blowing items off tables and collapsing canopies. The kids were bored, hungry, and afraid of being squashed by furniture older than their great-grandparents. GWE was a trooper…but that lasted for about 20 minutes, plus the time it took to eat a couple falafels. I decided not to push my luck and I figured I would come back the next time by myself.
Yesterday, I asked Justin if he’d like to come out for breakfast with me and attend the monthly flea market by our house. To my surprise, he said yes!
We left the house at 8:30, stopped at IHop for breakfast, and then rushed over to the flea market. When we arrived, Justin asked, “Why are we here?” I informed him that we were going to the flea market that I told him about yesterday. He rolled his eyes into the back of his head and cried, “NNNNOOOOOOOOOO.” Apparently, he wasn’t listening yesterday and he thought we were going someplace else. I’m not sure where. I didn’t bother to ask…because we weren’t going wherever it was. I finally coaxed Justin out of the car by saying, “You never know what we might buy.” (In all fairness, his response was pretty good. Justin said, “Why bother going, daddy? You’re not going to buy anything.” Usually, I don’t.)
With a sour look on his face and an extra-slow step, he held my hand and walked into the flea market with me. There was every sort of oddity, knick-knack, fake jewelry, and “unidentifiable thing collecting dust” that you could imagine. And then, Justin found the man selling bugs in amber.
Justin was totally grossed out and amused by the giant spider paperweights, scorpion pendants, and mummified bats. He even picked out a shark’s tooth keychain for his backpack. And then, we saw “It!”
Are you my mommy?
Perched on a wooden stand and covered in glass were two-headed ducks, two-headed mice (wearing bowties,) and a two-headed chicken. Justin and I marveled at the sight of the two-headed duck. It was the cutest, yet most horrifying thing I had ever seen. It looked like it came from “The Island of Doctor Moreau.” I kept joking with Justin about all the things we could do with it. Finally, I suggested we get it. Justin was deliriously excited at the prospect of getting this very strange two-headed duck.
I said, “Look, I think we need mommy’s input on this.” Justin immediately looked deflated…and the guy selling the two-headed duck didn’t seem that pleased either. Both of them were certain that this would be the sale-killer. Here is the text:
I ignored the text and turned to Justin. “I really think we need a two-headed duck. Don’t you?” “YES!!!!” he replied.
I paid for the duck while it was properly wrapped in bubble wrap and sealed in a box. The man selling the oddities handed Justin the box and off we went. Proudly, Justin carried his two-headed duck to the car with the care of carrying a Faberge Egg.
We’ve been thinking about name(s) for our two-headed duck. (Because he has two heads, we thought he deserved two names!) We’ve narrowed it down to “Tim and Jim,” “Bob and Bob,” “Batman and Robin,” “Huey and Dewey McDuck,” or ““Franken-Duckie!”
Last night, GWE was sporting a new pair of leopard print pajama pants. She asked me if I liked them and I responded that I did. She replied, “Good…because your son picked them out.”
GWE went on to explain that while she was deciding between leopard-print pajama pants and polka doted ones, she asked Justin which he preferred.
In a manner that can only be described as “America’s Next Top Model” judge meets 8-year-old with no verbal filter, Justin told her that the leopard print was more appropriate for her because she was “more of a ‘Roooaaaarrrr!’”
This is not the first dad blog about a child losing a tooth. This isn’t even the first dad blog about a child losing a tooth today! This is about something more important – TOOTH MONEY!
For the past few days, Justin has been wiggling another loose tooth. Twice, we sat down to try and pull it out…but it just wasn’t ready. Two days ago, Justin walked up to me and said, “It’s time daddy.” I said ok, grabbed a tissue, and I positioned myself to yank out #24. (I am the son of a dentist. Random information like this is stuck in my brain.) Instead, he held out his right hand and stopped me. With his left hand, he reached into his own mouth and plucked the tooth out all by himself! (Like a MAN!)
Now, it was Tooth Fairy Time. What you should know is that I gave Justin’s Tooth Fairy a name after Justin lost his first tooth. But GWE told me not to use that name because “it’s too silly and he’ll know it’s you (meaning, me) and he also knows your (me, again) handwriting.” Yes, I can be silly. However, I did not realize that our son had a degree in Graphology (the pseudoscience of Handwriting Analysis) and that he was prepared to use CSI techniques to uncover the identity of “The Tooth Fairy.” So the first note to Justin was nice and very generic.
This time, I gave The Tooth Fairy a name – Fred. Why did I name him Fred? Because everything in our house that gets named by us (minus the children) usually gets named “Fred.” Our fern is “Fred.” We have two fish: “Fred” and “Fred the Undead.” Plus, I’m pretty sure “Fred the Feces” was hiding in Garrett’s diaper this morning.
I finished “Fred the Tooth Fairy’s” letter to Justin and attached a five dollar bill. Patiently, I waited until I was satisfied that Justin was asleep before attempting to “take the tooth and leave the money.” (See below) Before I was able to “accomplish my mission,” GWE walked into the house. She approved of the note, but not of the money. She told me that five dollars was way too much and that a dollar should suffice. I disagreed. I thought five dollars was fine (although, still a little cheap.)
So, readers – I leave it to you! What is the right amount of money to leave a child when a tooth falls out?
This is the best sketch I have ever seen about Tooth Fairies!