Category: Dad ‘O Mouse

DadBot v1.5 is… ONLINE

Snippets of conversations, and direct statement made to me by friends, girlfriends, and even a few adults during the time I was between 12 and 17 years old :

“That girl uses tampons, she’s not a virgin anymore.”

“A girl should NEVER take a bath or shower when it’s ‘her time’!”

“We did it while she was on her period, you can’t get pregnant then.”

“I’m a virgin, virgin’s can’t get pregnant on their first time.”

_____________________________________________

Getting through puberty was tough.

Being the single father of a young daughter was even harder.

Men are often assumed to be sexists, just because they are men and men often say or do things that are either subtly sexist or interpreted as being so.

However, I feel empowered to say that as a single father of a young daughter I often faced a not so subtle type of sexism directed at me from more than a few women who were revolted by the idea of a man raising a female child.

Over the years I developed a pretty thick skin about it, and learned to handle it in my own way. I faced family members who thought it was “unnatural” for a man to want to raise his daughter. I faced girlfriends and would-be significant others who believed that a man lacked the *ability* to make the right decisions necessary for raising a child. Especially a female child. I faced healthcare workers and school administration officials that refused to deal with me as the primary parent, even when presented with signed documents saying that her mother wished to abdicate her authority on these matters and the court had approved the arrangement.

It was a tough slog sometimes, but I managed to develop a certain toolset over time, that helped me deal with these individuals and these eventualities.

One of the tougher things about being the father of a very young girl was inevitable questions that any growing, curious youngster is going to eventually have about life, sex and the things they hear at a school lunch table.

Now, I know a lot of parents opt to allow the lunch table to be the the primary educator of their kids, and to some degree, I get it. These conversations can be hard, and when you’re a grown man and the questions are coming from a young girl, they can get more complicated, but I made the decision very early on that I would not be allowing other 9, 10 or 11 year olds to explain “the facts of life” to my daughter. This seemed like a recipe for outright disaster to me.

I also realized early on that when her mother abdicated authority on matters of school and health, she also apparently abdicated all responsibility for educating Mouse on… feminine hygiene. I had been assuming that there would at least be some downloading of the “basics” to Mouse, but I came to understand too late that this was a poor assumption. I knew the truth of this the day I was called by the school nurse to come and collect my hysterical daughter from her fourth grade class – “oh – and – bring a change of clothes.”

When I got her home, and got her calmed down a bit, I sat her down and asked her what she knew about what had happened. Her teacher and the nurse had explained a little bit, and told her this was a normal thing and that (to her absolute horror) it would become a regular thing. But… that’s as far as it had gone. She still didn’t truly understand. I pressed her about any information coming from her mother, but she assured me there had been complete radio silence on that front.

So.

I made a decision. I decided I wouldn’t cop out, and I wouldn’t sell her out, and that I’d hit her right between the eyes with everything she needed to know. Knowledge may be power, but to a young girl misinformation or the lack of knowledge can be an outright tragedy.

I told her about all the apocryphal crap and wives-tales and absolute bullshit she was going to hear from other girls, other boys, and maybe even some adults. I told her what to really expect, and told her to not be afraid to ask any question she wanted to ask, and I gave her a promise that I’d always be truthful, and I’d always answer. I tried to make her feel better about it by emphasizing what an significant milestone in actually growing up this was. I knew she had more questions. I did my best to make sure she know I was open to any of them.

Easy for me to say, I suppose. Harder for a daughter to look her dad in the face and ask some of the questions a young girl standing on the edge of puberty was going to have. Harder still for a dad to keep his composure and not feel like a complete idiot when answering. What do you do when you really need information but have a hard time asking your own dad weird shit, and all you ever get from your mom is “ask your dad”?

I had a solution for her.

I created a robot.

Meet DadBot v1.5

He’s knows everything. And I do mean everything. He knows the clinical names of all those weird sexual medical organs and fluids and stuff. He knows what is really happening to the pubescent and pre-pubescent bodies of both boys and girls when they start to change. He knows the truth about all things sexual. He knows the lies that boys will tell to get a girl to do things. He also knows the lies that some girls will tell to get boys to do things. He knows what’s real, and what’s bullshit. And he definitely knows what all the great nasty words really mean!

When you overheard something at school (or on TV), and you needed to know exactly what that nasty-sounding word really meant. You could always ask DadBot.

I’m can’t recall now exactly when the DadBot first came online. But at some point he became just another part of being a dad, and Mouse came to realize that if she picked her moment just right, she could access DadBot and get the answers she needed without being misinformed by kids her own age, brushed off by her mom, or completely embarrassed by asking her actual dad.

DadBot v1.5 looked a lot like me.

To access him, all you had to do was ask your real dad “Is the DadBot online?”

Almost every time this would cause her real father to freeze in place. His eyes would become blank, and cease blinking. His head would swivel from side to side in a smooth, mechanical motion, and his voice would become clearer and his words would become short and clipped and adopt a staccato pace.

You knew he was online when he paused a long moment and said : “DadBot. Version ONE point FIVE. Is. (long pause) ONLINE.”
Then his head would swivel to point at you, but not directly. His eyes were fixed in your direction, but not directly at you, staring unblinkingly and focused on a point somewhere just beyond where you were.

This was the time to get your really good questions answered.

“Uhm… today at school, a boy named Tyler called me a NIMBO. Can you tell me what a NIMBO is?”

Hmmm. I have a vague idea of what Tyler might have been saying, but I’m not %100 sure. Better dig for a little clarification.

DadBot’s head would swivel back and forth a few times as if thinking for a while.

“Context. Please.”

“What does ‘context’ mean?”, she asked the first time DadBot required it. After that she had it.

“Use. The. Word. In. A. Sentence. (long pause) Please.”

“Oh.. yeah… he said I looked like a real sex maniac, and I was probably a complete NIMBO!”.

Ah. Okay. Nympho. A 10 year old boy just called my 9 year old daughter a NIMBO. I got a house payment that says that little douchebag Tyler has not a one clue what he’s actually saying. But… DadBot v1.5 is up to the task.

“Negative. NIMBO. ERROR detected. IMPROPER terminology. PROPER usage is NYMPHO. Noun. Abbreviated form of. Nymphomaniac. A female person who thinks of nothing but sex all the time.”

“That’s just stupid.” She said, with a look that said why would anyone call anyone such a dumb thing?

Tyler would go on to be the source of a lot of consultations with the DadBot.

And over the years DadBot v1.5 fielded some real beauties.

I remember a long car ride one weekend. We’d been out adventuring, and listening to music and were heading home when there was a lull in the conversation. She was 11. Perhaps 12.

“Is the DadBot online?”

Dead Eyes. Swivel once. Swivel twice. Pause for effect.

“DadBot. Version ONE point FIVE. Is. (long pause) ONLINE.”

“I was wondering… when do girls… get… hair.”

Whew. Never know what DadBot is going to get, but this is easy. I’d been expecting this one. I’ll play it straight for a minute. For effect.

“Some. Girls. Are born. With hair. Some. Girls. Don’t get hair. On their heads. Until two. Or three.”

Frustration. “No, no no… I mean… when do girls get hair…” Looooong pause. Wait for it. “Down there.”

DadBot’s got this one. All day long.

“Girls can get. PUBIC. HAIR. Starting as early. As age. 9.” Let that soak in a second. Cover the bases. “Or as late as. Age. 16.” Make sure she knows that all girls aren’t the same. “Every. Female. Is. Different. Some girls. Get. PUBIC HAIR. Early. Some. Do not. “

Over the years DadBot fielded some true beauties. Of course, the older she got, the more… ‘complicated’ the questions became.

Still.

The ability to ask her dad a question, without really asking her dad a question, became an important part of our relationship.

The DadBot was a way that she could pretend that she wasn’t really looking her own dad in the face when she asked what a “clitoris” was, and she also absolutely knew she’d get a straight, albeit clinical answer. She was smart enough to figure out kids her own age (especially boys) were either dumbasses who were using words that even they didn’t understand, or that they had an agenda that might make them less than truthful. Other adults were tricky business too. Mom refused to answer anything that made her the least bit uncomfortable, and teachers and other family members could raise alarms and cause other issues.

Nope. If you wanted the absolute straight, clinical truth, and didn’t want to worry about bullshit or setting off fire-alarms, you asked the DadBot. He never let you down.

I guess somewhere around the age of about 15, the construct of DadBot got left behind. I’m not sure if she grew out of it, or if I did, but it was about this time that she just started talking to me directly, and didn’t need the DadBot anymore.

Past a point she had the answers, mostly, and didn’t need him much anyway.

He’s packed away now. Been in mothballs for a decade or so and is stowed up in the attic, safely.

But he’s here, and he still works, and I’ll keep some gear oil and a fresh battery pack handy.

In case she ever needs him again.

The One True Christmas Gift

OneTrueGift

“Welcome to Adult Life” is my glib saying whenever my daughter bemoans her situation. She works in IT. 50-60 hours a week. All hours of the day and night. A downed server 2,000 miles away means a myriad of progressively escalating phone calls and corrective actions often in the middle of the night. Often in really bad weather. In fact, the worse the weather, the more incidents she must manage. She’s tired. Really tired. She’s over worked. She’s under paid.

“Welcome to Adult Life”. I say.

She rolls her eyes so far back in her head, I’m pretty sure she can see her own brain.

I always follow with a Daddly bear hug, and then produce some old chestnut dug from deep in a pocket that belonged to my father, and his father, and his father’s father.

“The price of success, is hard work.”

“Hard work reveals you have character.”

And… the one I never got tired of :

“Hard work without ability is a shame, but ability without hard work is a tragedy.”

She smiles. She gets its. Deep inside she knows I care, but she also knows that one of my prime Dad jobs is to keep her prepared for some of life’s hard eventualities. Part of her understands it’s in her best interest to keep that instinct in tact.

Sometimes it’s a few days between the times she calls or texts. Sometimes a bit longer. I watch her struggle to manage all of the responsibilities of Adult Life. Her school. Her money. Her relationships. Her Life. Through it all there is always a strong parental reflex at work. Like those old Three Stooges bits, when the doctor would bonk Moe’s knee with a little hammer, and he’d reflexively let go a mighty mule kick. When I see her struggle, my reflex is to help. Sometimes it’s a fight to keep from intervening. Sometimes she reaches out herself. It all seems to work out in the end.

She called this morning, to say she’d be here for Christmas.

Somehow, she’s managed to carve out a few hours. I know how hard this was for her to achieve. She’s worked all night for the last few nights. She’s exhausted. She has a boyfriend. And a life she hasn’t seen in a couple of weeks. She also has a responsibility to be fair and carve out time for her mom’s side of the family as well. Every hour she gives to me, is an hour she owes to the other side, or she’ll be seen as playing favorites. Something she will not do. There’s that character thing again.

She comes. She eats. She socializes.

She smiles.

She wanders over to me, when an opportunity to speak to me alone presents itself.

“I’m sorry Dad.” she says sadly.

“For what, kid?” I say, genuinely concerned.

“With the car, and school and all the expenses, I didn’t have a lot left over for presents this year.” I can tell she’s very upset.

“Understand this, Little Mouse.” I say. “You’ve already given me the very best present I could have hoped for.”

“What’s that?” she says.

“You. Present in my life. Here. Today.”

She hugs me.

“I love you, Dad.”

And of all the gifts under all the trees, that – is the gift I treasure most.

 

Merry Christmas, All.

 

-Athair-

 

 

 

Moving And What We Leave Behind

Alive

Alive.

This old house is so… alive.

It wasn’t always.

The house was 20 years old when the ex and I had first stood hand-in-hand as a couple and promised aloud to do all the things that would turn this humble house into a veritable mansion, worthy of Uptown People of Wealth.  I had grown up in this neighborhood. On this block. She had grown up only a block or two over. We wanted all the children we had planned to grow up here, where we had grown.

The many children we planned had turned out to be only Mouse by the time the divorce detonated.

In a bizarre miracle of fate, I found that I had ended up with this house when the mushroom cloud began to dissipate.

There was that terrible moment when I came to the stark realization that, although I had married my high school sweetheart for love, and companionship and all the “right reasons”,  I had, in fact, allowed my soul to be knitted to one who was… soulless.

There was also that terrible moment when I realized that the years and the plans and the promises and the memories were to about to coined into cold, hard, cash.  The marriage was not now, nor ever was going to be remembered for the things we’d felt, or the memories we’d made, but for what it had ended up being worth on Missouri’s Form 14.

In the end, this old house had netted out to a negative on the balance sheet. At the moment of the divorce it represented more debt than profit. With no apparent value, it was cast aside, like those worn and stained old mattresses you see lying on the side of lonesome back roads. Furtively pushed off the back of a moving truck in the middle of the night, valueless and unwanted.

This house became the place where Mouse “grew up”. She spent the vast majority of time with me, and in this old house. She “latch keyed” there every day as this old house was only two blocks from her grade school, and only a couple more blocks from her eventual middle and high school. This put her in my care and in this house every school day of her life over the next 10 years.

As the years rolled by my status as a completely broke divorced Dad kept me from investing in the house as diligently as good home owners usually do. The money simply wasn’t there for extensive professional repairs or even basic remodeling from time to time as most responsible home owners do.

Repairs tended to be “homegrown” and basic, and upgrades… well… upgrades were non-existent.

The years before the divorce didn’t bring the promised attention. The years afterward were necessarily more Spartan still.

In the decade that followed the divorce it fell into disrepair. I was doing well to keep the basics together. The plumbing. The foundation. Basic structural integrity. There was no money for anything more.

As I struggled and scraped to keep my head above water with the millstone of confiscatory child support payments threatening weekly to drag me to a watery grave, I found myself still paying for Mouse’s every day needs. I never understood how I could pay 4 figure child support, and still be required to pay for every doctor visit. Every school book, activity pass, or fee. All of her clothes. Most of her meals. Virtually every aspect of her care, I paid for outright. Then paid again every month in “child support”.

Outrage aside, this necessarily meant that there was no money left over for anything but the basics.

This old house stopped living and breathing sometime during the years that followed.

Although I did my best to keep it a home for Mouse, it became a crusty bachelor’s pad.

Who needed a working stove? I had a microwave. Good enough for Mouse and me.  The stovetop worked.  Most of the time.

The multi-colored kitchen linoleum was 35 years old, and looked like Walt Disney himself had upchucked on it.  The matted 70’s style fun-fur shag carpet in the living room was, I kid you not, Pepto Bismol Pink. While most of the neighbors had years ago transitioned to modern aluminum or vinyl siding, this old house wore her ancient asbestos shingles like a shabby housewife wore an old, loud, floral moo-moo. Where the rest of the neighbors had long ago installed the more efficient and attractive replacement windows, this old house wore her tinny old single pane abominations like the aforementioned housewife would wear her gigantic, 50’s style sequined cats-eye glasses.  The basement went unfinished, of course. The garage as well. The oversized yard, once the envy of the entire neighborhood, went undercared for and began to sport weeds, and crabgrass, and was lucky to even be mowed from week to week.

Slowly… this old house… expired.

Along with all the hopes and dreams that had seemed so apparent the day we’d stood hand-in-hand and taken possession of it.

Once a man has experienced watching while his feelings and beliefs are callously sold into servitude to someone else’s greed, it’s not surprising that he’s not in a hurry to put his heart or his dreams in Harm’s Way again anytime soon.

For the longest time, I had kept the entrance to my old heart boarded up. Graffiti covered boards fastened to a rotting frame with rusty nails.  It was as old, and dusty, and uncared for as this house had become.

And then…

Something happened.

Well… more precisely…

“Jamie” happened.

A “fix up” date, engineered by well-meaning friends would bring Jamie into my life. And Mouse’s.

Jamie took a look and decided to take the time to tentatively pry off those splintery old boards, and let the light shine into this old heart, and, by extension, this old house.

During the “girlfriend” years she would fuss, and decorate, and insist on small upgrades that made this old house less like some horny old guy’s “Love Shack” and more and more like a home.  A carefully selected lamp here. A nice little curtain there. A dab a paint over here. A dash of cloth over there.

A plant here. A plant there. Before I knew it there were plants everywhere.

Growing. Thriving. Prospering.

Like everything Jamie comes in contact with seems to do.

Plants. People. It didn’t seem to matter.  Everything she touched was better for her having touched it.

And I was no exception. Nor was Mouse. Jamie’s pure faith, love and feminine energy was the warm sunshine in all of our lives that our souls had been withering without for years, and that we had never really known. In that warmth and sunshine we began to grow.

And when the day came that I could no longer deny I didn’t like thinking about what my life would be like if it was deprived of that warmth and light, she answered my quietly whispered prayer for a more important place in her life with an even more quietly whispered “Yes”.

The day she moved into this old house with me, she sat my crusty, old, previously bachelor’s ass down, and gave it to me straight between my eyes.

If she were to be my wife, she needed to make this old house HER home as well.

This would mean…. “change” for me.

Those who know me, know my life’s motto all too well : “Change… is BAD.”

A crusty creature of habit known for being cantankerous and disliking change immensely, she made it clear she didn’t want to live in a crusty, decrepit, boarded up old bachelor’s pad.

Her heart needed a Home.

A real, living, breathing, Home.

“Good luck with that.” I remember thinking quietly to myself. This old house assumed room temperature loooong ago.

Then, I made the smartest decision I’ve ever made in my life.  I decided to get out of her way, and allow “change” to enter my life.

And… as if through some miracle… she slowly began go breath life back into this place.

In an amazingly short period of time, and for an amazingly small amount of carefully scrimped and saved for money, things in this old house began to change.

That old gaudy multicolored linoleum disappeared, and was replaced with a modern, attractive ceramic tile, complete with carefully selected matching grout. The ancient asbestos siding morphed into contemporary vinyl siding. The outrageously colorful (and outrageously filthy) Pepto-Carpet morphed into contemporary Berber carpet that just happened to be a color that actually was found in nature.  The prehistoric old Roper stove disappeared and was replaced by a modern GE Silver Line appliance that was smarter than most high school graduates.  It could turn itself on, bake a pie, then cool itself down and turn itself off apparently without human intervention.  In place of the 50’s style crappy metal windows new, energy efficient “double hungs” appeared. The savings each month on our energy bill more than paid back the cost of those windows in less than a year. With the tax breaks from the upgrade –  we actually came out ahead. I kid you not.

Strange, cloth-like things began to appear over the windows. These new-fangled apparitions were apparently known to others as “curtains”.  Why someone would bother with such frivolous things was beyond me until I discovered that those long, thin metal strips across the windows actually weren’t dusty grey, they had… apparently… been WHITE all this time, and when you twirled the little stick thingy next to them… as if by some evil magic… they OPENED and allowed sunlight into your house. Plants apparently needed this to happen in order to survive.

There was also a suggestion that those big, dirt filled things in the back yard were actually oddly named “flower boxes” and were – much to my surprise – NOT a repository for cigarette ashes and sticks from the yard. One day I came outside to find… flowers… in the flower boxes. Like… real… living… flowers.  Not the plastic kind mind you – but – REAL flowers. In my her our yard!

Suddenly, and without warning, this old house began to BREATH again.

Where once I couldn’t see anything but decay, and decomposing dreams, Jamie brought color, and light, and warmth, and life to this old house.

Just as she had done to this old heart.

Like a determined doctor that refuses to give up resuscitating a long dead patient, she kept pounding on this old houses ribcage and puffing into its mouth until… like a miracle… it choked, and  gasped,  and sat bolt upright, chest heaving and coughing as it tried to expel a decade of decay and cobwebs from its dusty lungs.

“Alive.”

This old house is so… “Alive”.

This old heart is so… “Alive”.

Because of Jamie.

So…

Today… our lives are taking us in a new direction. A new home, in a new neighborhood awaits us.

And as I stand looking around at this warm, living, breathing space I have this huge lump in my throat, and my emotions are threatening to overwhelm me.

Jamie swept into this house and poured herself into it, and into me, and brought both of those crusty old things back to life.

I look around and see her hard work and faith in us everywhere, and I see the color and light and happiness she put back into all of us, and it’s hard to let it go.

In a day or two, I’ll have to hand the keys to this old house to a new owner and I wonder if they will ever know this place as we have. So much living was done here. So many memories. So many summer days. So many Christmas mornings.  So many storms weathered.

So much…. Life… lived here.

I fight the tears and I know, I know a new, bigger, fancier house awaits.

I know in my heart of hearts that Jamie will do for the new house what she did for this one.

And what she did for me.

And what she did for Mouse.

She will continue to breath life into it, and into us, and make us what we were always meant to be.

Alive.

And So It Begins…

stageoffools

11:30 PM, November 26, 1991.

The hospital delivery room is nothing short of organized chaos.

People moving rapidly from place to place. Doctors in. Doctors out. Nurses here. Equipment there. Everything is oscillating madly, yet, with a purpose. All of the activity seems… directed. Like a virtuoso musician with a finely tuned instrument, the movement is unbelievably furious, but each individual movement is directed at a finely crafted purpose. No energy is wasted.

Somewhere in all of this directed confusion is my the woman who was my wife. She’s buried under layers of sterile sheets and fussy nurses.

I’ve slipped into a sort of walking unconsciousness. The world has gone to an otherworldly white color, and I’ve disconnected. My heart is threatening to hammer its way out of my chest. I’m certain I’m going to have a heart attack at any second. I can actually hear the blood running through me in my ears.

Somewhere, a disembodied voice from somewhere far away is prompting me to “Look! Look Mr. Athair!”

I’m completely frozen up.

Kind hands on my shoulder direct me to a station in front of a raised blanket, under which is the woman who was my wife’s lower body. As if she’s been cut in half in some bizarre nudists magic trick, and I’m being asked to watch her feet wiggle as proof she’s still alive.

But it’s not her feet exactly that’s wiggling.

There seems to be blood everywhere. There’s something coming out of her, and like those funny “guess what this is” pictures of everyday items at extreme close-ups, at first I can’t place it. Then it hits me that it’s a tiny head.  A tiny living head. Coming out of my wife.

The world starts to swim away, and I can feel my legs starting to give out.

More kind hands grab me, and hold me up. They were prepared for this, apparently. I hear an amused voice say “Called that one.” They had a pool going on whether or not I was a “fader”. Someone had just won it. They were ready.

More confusion.

More blood.

Time lapse memories. Not just a head anymore. Shoulders, arms, then legs.

“It’s a beautiful baby girl!” another disembodied voice says.

Still more kind hands. Grabbing me. Turning me around.

Someone is stuffing a pair of surgical scissors in my hand.

Someone shoves something that looks like a bloody eel in my face and says simply “Cut!”. My leg’s buckle again. Kind hands again. Someone takes my hand, and works the scissors for me like I’m a three year old. The umbilical cord snaps in two.

More disembodied voices.

“ Six pounds!”

“Nine Ounces!”

“Twenty Two Inches!”

“All ten toes!”

“All ten fingers!”

“No problems!”

“Completely healthy!”

“Wrap her up!”

A very young doctor grabs my hand like I’m an invalid. Shakes it profusely. I don’t remember seeing him here before. I’m sure he’s been here the whole time.

“Congratulations! What a pretty little peanut baby you have!”

The young doctor had unknowingly just supplied a nickname for this little girl that she is still referred to today.

A small, wriggling bundle is laid on my wife’s stomach. Peanut is crying. My wife is crying. I’m crying.

It’s been a long, wrenching trip.

This was not easy.

We had been trying for many years to achieve this moment.

There had been a lot of pain, and heartache on the way.

Years of work, and worry. The vague fear that one or both of us were infertile. Years of agonizing and “why?”. Medical tests. More medical tests.

Then a series of heartbreaks.

Miscarriages. Three of them. One late term.

More years of worry.

Finally, this one, perfect, shining moment.

The years of work and worry were over now.

This little girl was no “oops”, or “surprise”.

This little girl was the answer to years of prayers and effort.

I went home that night, and prayed some more. Grateful prayers of thanks.

We had wanted nothing more than to be parents. God had granted us that wish.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, I felt one great weight lift from me, and another great weight settle on me.

We were parents now. We had, somehow, miraculously, actually created another human being. And now… we were responsible for her. Completely, entirely, wholly, responsible for every aspect of her. Feeding her. Protecting. Nurturing her. Teaching her.

We had been granted our wish.

It was all up to us now.

And So It Begins.

 

ATHAIR’S NOTE :

This piece was written many years ago. The “wife” in this piece is, of course, my ex wife. Framed against the backdrop of a “high conflict” divorce, it seems particularly poignant that when all was said and done, all the years of “work and worry” would end in a way that would cause heartache and drama between several families for decades.

Pictures From the Bottom of a Drawer

mouse_dad My dad was rummaging around in the bottom of an old desk the other day. He found this picture stuck in the corner of a drawer, waaaaay in the back, where you would never see if it you didn’t remove the drawer completely.

It set me back on my heels a little bit. Every once in a while you bump into and old memory that really tugs at you. I remember this afternoon well. It was summer, 1997. One Saturday morning I surprised Mouse with a trip to the Magic House. They have one of those big high voltage Tesla balls that make your hair stand on end. Well… presuming you actually have any hair (cough).  This picture cost me $15.00. I can remember grousing a little about it at the time. $15.00 for a Polaroid instamatic was… outrageous. Especially for a struggling divorced dad that had already popped for the tickets at the gate, and as those that live in the area know – Magic House ticket’s are far from free.

But… I got on my hip, and I paid their vig, and took the picture home, and put it in a drawer, and forgot about it.

Until my Dad slid it quietly into my in-box, with the lyrics from a Harry Belafonte , about how you turn around and she’s two, then you turn around and she’s four, then you turn around and she’s a young girl walking out your door.

Funny how the time slips away.

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