Archive for June, 2020

Genetics

Good morning, and happy early Father’s Day to all the dads out there (but especially my own). I really wanted to write Fathers’ with the s’ instead of the ‘s, because that makes more sense to me, so I looked it up. Wikipedia (which is always 100% accurate) lists it as “Father’s Day (or Fathers’ Day),” so that wasn’t much help. But it only lists the female counterpart as “Mother’s Day.” I get it, we’re honoring our individual mom or dad, but I think it’s more appropriate to say it’s a day that all moms or dads share. And what if you have two moms? Then it should definitely be Mothers’ Day. I didn’t expect to spend that amount of time on this topic, but now I’m fired up about this great injustice.

Speaking of my dad, I clearly inherited something from him: the ability to quickly fall asleep in virtually any setting. My friend Dusty likes to remind me that I fell asleep when we were in Spain in the middle of the loudest flamenco performance of all time. To defend myself, it was so loud that I think my body was trying to shut down so it didn’t have to deal with it.

In any case, I fall asleep quickly and often. Last night, for example, I wanted to listen to a podcast and play a couple of games on my phone before going up to bed. I woke up on the couch with the podcast over and not even having started a game. When I rewound it, I only remembered the first five minutes, and it was on 2x speed. That’s kind of impressive if you consider the fact that I felt awake enough to start that activity.

Last weekend, something funny happened that I wanted to share. We’d all been doing our own thing for a while, and I took a break to lie down on the couch. (I’m seeing a theme here and might have solved my issue going forward – just no more using the couch!) I knew I was feeling a little sleepy, so when my daughter suggested we do something, I thought that was a good idea before sleep took over. “Let’s play a game,” she said. I asked if she had anything in mind, and she didn’t really. Then she asked if I had any thoughts. What came out of my mouth was this: “Yeah…maybe…Ellen’s haircut.” “What?” she asked me. “It sounded like you said Ellen’s haircut.” “Uh…I did,” I replied, “but what I meant to say was…Pictionary.” We both started laughing, very confused at what transpired. In my head, I’d started to go off to a weird dreamland while still having a conversation, and I vaguely remember picturing Ellen DeGeneres but I have no idea why. And when my brain was ready to answer “Pictionary” (since I was still processing our conversation and had a thought of something we could play), it came out as “Ellen’s haircut.” I wish I could explain it more.

So naturally, my creative daughter made up a game called Ellen’s Haircut that was a fun guessing game where you had to give clues about an object and category that someone’s hair looks like. We laughed about how we got there, and I think I might be hearing about this for the rest of my life, which I totally deserve. We still give my dad shit for his spontaneous sleep sessions, so I’ll continue the family tradition. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Clue-less

Hello, and I hope all 3-5 of you are doing well and staying safe. Quick update on my quarantine goals: first, I’m not being as creative as I’d like. Posting here occasionally is all I’m doing, but I know that’s better than nothing. For exercise, I’m actually exceeding my goals. I’m running twice as much as I expected, and I’m spreading 250 pushups out across each day and noticing a difference. As for the beard, my lovely wife kindly suggested that I trim it a little, so I took a little off under my jawbone where it was getting bushiest (and whitest for some reason). Still got the full and scraggly beard going for a while though, and since you all care so much, I’ll keep you updated.

I was talking to a friend of mine who I’ll call Jon (because that’s his real name) and it reminded me of a story from about a year ago. Let me set the stage a little first. Jon and I have known each other and been very close friends since meeting in 9th grade English class nearly 30 years ago. We know each other very well, having spent 8 years of high school and college together, and then living and working together for a short time after that. We chat weekly, and on one of our normal calls I said, “I’m going to say something that I’ve never said to you in all the years we’ve known each other: I’d like your help with a crossword puzzle clue.”

In case that sounds mean to you, let me further explain. As detailed in this space before, I love crossword puzzles and all manner of word games. It’s one of my things and giving modesty a middle finger, I’m quite good at them. They are not Jon’s thing. Jon is a very talented creative person. He got a BFA in Acting and then an MFA after attending an intensive Shakespearean theater program. He’s written and recorded songs and has many talents that are nowhere near my wheelhouse, so this was more of a “funny for me to ask you about this” than anything mean-spirited.

So I told him that I wanted his help, and he laughed and said, “Let’s hear it.” “Ok,” I said, “what is the name of Prospero’s brother?” Another aside: I loved learning and studying Shakespeare in high school and college, and even had a time where I wanted to be a professor who taught Shakespeare as my profession. I’d somehow missed “The Tempest” along the way, but I knew that Jon was in a scene of “The Tempest” in high school and then spent years studying Shakespeare in his Master’s program, so he was the perfect person to ask. He laughed and said, “That’s hilarious. My dad called me yesterday asking me the same exact question.” “That’s really funny,” I said, “and what was the answer.” “I have no idea,” he responded.

“WHAT?!” I exclaimed. “Yeah, he asked me but I didn’t know.” “And you didn’t look it up?” I asked. “No.” I was dumbfounded. I went over his credentials again with him and explained not only why I asked him, but also why he should know that. And if he didn’t, why he should’ve gone and found the answer right away. Then I told him it would be another 30 years before I asked him about another crossword clue.

I ended up getting enough letters of nearby clues to deduce that the answer was “Antonio.” I texted that to Jon, and he told me that that’s what he would’ve guessed, which was super helpful. I encouraged him to reach out to his dad to make sure he eventually got the answer, but I’m not sure if he ever did.

I don’t think he gave our interaction a second thought, which highlights another difference between us. On the rare occasion that someone specifically seeks me out for a grammar question, I want to be the expert they think I am. When I have to tell them, “Honestly, I don’t know when to use ‘lay’ or ‘lie’ despite looking it up a hundred times,” I feel like I let them down and mentally kick myself a little. But hey, that’s part of what makes our friendship so strong – core values right in line with each other, but very complementary strengths and weaknesses on the fringe. I cherish that and would love for everyone to have many longtime friends who fit that bill since it’s truly enriched my life. But he should’ve known that answer. That’s bullshit.