I’m riding the train home from work as a heat wave bares down on the city. I’m listening to The Feelies on my newly upgraded Spotify music service. The update affords me un-tethered access to my entire quirky collection of late eighties 1st wave bands, even in the bowels of the city’s stinky subway system. I’m completely bored and my eyes start to wander to the diverse humanity occupying the car. There’s all types on the train tonight, from a Jimi Hendrix clone dress as a riverboat gambler, practicing his riffs on an acoustic guitar, to an old Hasidic man who’s deep set eyes radiate so much intensity I feel he could light my hair up like the burning bush if I make direct eye contact. I quickly divert my gaze over to a freakish bleach-blond-muscle-clad girl who’s obviously competing in the body building tournament at the community college by my apartment. Her frog-like upper thighs look like they could have sent many a deficient oral practitioner to his grave. I can tell she likes me looking at her body and that in and of itself is enough to start reading the display ads in the car. Tonight the big advertiser is a new men’s cologne called Yankee Fragrance. What The f#$ck is that all about? What could Yankee Fragrance possibly have in it to attract the opposite sex? I start thinking about what ingredients go into something called Yankee Fragrance and the following list comes to mind:
1. A milliliter of Derek Jeter’s ball sweat
2. A pitch of dry mustard scraped off the concession area condiment table
3. One dissolved urinal cake
4. Three tablespoons of stale Bud Light
5. An air of entitlement
6. Vintage flatulence, newly released from years of fermentation inside a portable stadium seat cushion.
7. The essence of unwashed jock strap left to fester in a forgotten hamper after a late August double header
8. A sprinkle of decomposed mouth balls from Yogi Berra’s estate sale
You get the picture. I for one can’t wait to see the commercial.
It’s eight in the morning and think I just broke Thing 2. She tried jumping on me from her bed as I was looking in the closet for something acceptable that Thing 2 could wear to school. She slid down my back and landed on the corner of the bed, much like Wile E Coyote slides down a bare cliff face after an unsuccessful pursuit of the Roadrunner. She knocked all the air out of her little lungs and is gasping like a mullet stuck on dry land. I fear the worst and quickly picture her spending her entire summer in a full body cast, doodling images of monkey bars, boogie boards and tap shoes. As she catches her breath and I lay her flat on the bed, my wife, a trained chiropractor, comes in and quickly runs through a complex diagnostic sequence of 47 neurological tests. The prognosis is positive and it is decided she will accompany me to work as planned on her day off from school. Having a six year old coming into work with you is in many ways a mixing of church and state. Up to now my work life and my home life have been largely separate. My work for the kids is like this mythical place I disappear to and magically return from during the week. It’s like I’m going to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory or something but today one of the Oompa Loompas’ is coining with. I forgo my usual cab ride and we board a subway at Chambers St. using the uptown 3 train. Thing 1 loves everything about the subway, from sneaking under the turnstile to putting a quarter into a urine-stained panhandler’s paper coffee cup. She will not sit down, preferring to hold on to pole and ride the train like a bucking bronco. This day is no different and I can see no signs of a serious back injury as she spins around the pole in a way that would concern any parent. A mobile mariachi band boards between Houston and 14th street and starts up a shaky version of Juan Ta Na Merda. Another quarter disappears. We exit from this subterranean playground at 23rd and start walking east to my office. We walk in the lobby and co-workers who are otherwise pretty open minded starting looking at me like I’m holding hands with a Yeti. I guess it’s a bit out of context but that doesn’t warrant this level of weirdness. I quickly bring her back to my office and begin her 4 hour shift. We have five activities planned today:
1. Sort and count all the change I’ll accumulated over the last 4 years. Give her a 10% cut.
2. Go collect someone who’s come for a meeting in the front lobby and bring them back to my office. She refuses to do this siting the “stranger danger” policy we’ve been drumming into her head since birth.
3. Ride over to the creative department on a scooter and find someone to do an art project with. She rolls back up with a rose made of toilet paper, a cow-shaped paper weigh and a mask of Queen Elisabeth.
4. Lunch from the vending machine bought from the proceeds of the change sorting task.
5. Deliver some expense reports to Finance. She comes back flustered like she’s been to the principal’s office. I know exactly how she feels.
We finish up at 3pm and like a couple of Wall St. hedge fund managers and walk out to an awaiting black car service that will take us to Odeon in TriBeCa for cocktails. She will have fresh squeezed orange juice and I will have a martini with three olives…. but just one. Once again, she will pay.
I’m walking into the elevator at work and some groover with a skateboard, ice coffee and bright red Monster Beats headphones by Dr. Dre calls after me. “Sir, sir, can you please hold the elevator?” I make a lame attempt to keep the door open but it shuts between us as we make awkward eye contact. As I contemplate this passive aggressive maneuver, I can’t help to wonder when I went from being a “dude” to a “sir”? Unlike any of the other signs of aging like greying hair or bowel inefficiencies, going from “dude” to “sir” doesn’t seem to happen gradually. It literally happens over night. One day I was being asked by total strangers if I knew where one could score weed and the next day I was being asked where the handicapped entrance to the subway was located. It’s not really fair because this type of change needs more transition time. I have friends my age that still call me dude but that doesn’t count because someone out there is calling them “sir”. At my desk I start to obsess and begin doing “daddy math” in my head. When Thing 1 is twenty and Thing 2 is eighteen I will be…sh#@t! I ask my assistant to order a vegetarian lunch from the Thai place around the corner and make an appointment for a colonoscopy with Dr. Manhind (great name for an ass doctor). It’s time for me to start playing defense. Then it dawns on me. For this line of thinking to be set off so easily, I must be having a mid-life crisis. This puts everything in perspective and somewhat explains the strange feelings I’ve been having lately. For three straight nights I’ve had dreams about hitting baseballs in a batting cage at Chelsea Piers. I’ve also been having this strange emotional reaction to the scent of patchouli or sandalwood, obviously a longing to return to those careful days of college when I dated girls that didn’t shave their armpits. On Pinterest, I’ve been pinning images of topless vintage Ford Bronco’s with surfboards thrown in the back. Obviously impractical for a man with two small children. I leave work early and I head down to the east village to buy some black jeans that are one size too small. The girl in the shop tells me they’ll stretch. I’m thinking I’m going to be working out a lot now, so I feel pretty good about the purchase. Another possible outcome is that in six months I will end up putting these jeans in the company cloths drive box and the kid who called me sir will pluck them out and be wearing them when he doesn’t hold the elevator door for me next time. Only time will tell.