Friday, March 20, 2009

Daddy home alone

The girls cried two years ago when they pulled out the driveway for five days away with Mommy and their aunt. “We’re gonna miss you, Daddy!” the older one wailed as the car rumbled on down the street.

As soon as the car was out of sight, I remember doing a euphoric little jig. It’ll forever confound me how the three people I love more than any others can make me so ecstatically happy by leaving me all alone.

The scene will be repeated tomorrow at 8 a.m. For the first night in more than two years I’ll have the house to myself. No wife. No kids. No cares.

That means I have fewer than 18 hours to invent from scratch a machine that can stop time. The girls will be gone about 36 hours. If I could I’d stretch that period to, say, a week, I’d do it. That would give me time to do all the nothing I’ll not be able to squeeze into tomorrow and Sunday.

And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. I’m not going rake the yard, put up the screens or dust any of the house hold items that’ll be gathering dust through a weekend of peaceful inactivity.

If they’d present a trophy for what guys like me do on rare weekends like this, the golden figure would be seated in a recliner with a remote in one hand, a beer in the other, and a bowl of pretzels cradled in his paunchy lap.

There are many good family men who want to spend their every waking moment with their families. Any separation freights them with a sadness they wear like a cloak.

I’m not one of them.

My family reminds me of an old country song, “How Am I Ever Going to Miss You if You Never Go Away.”

Part of the problem is I’m just not brave enough to be lazy. Val works very hard to keep the house and the kids looking great. So if she walks in a room and I’m -- heaven forbid -- just sitting there, I feel guilty. In fact, I often pop up out of my seat so the motion will confuse her into thinking I’m just finishing or about to embark on some tedious household chore.

If I had more time, I’d like to have all the boys over for cigars and beers. This is another thing I never get to do. We have a really great guy house with a big back porch that overlooks the woods and a babbling mountain creek. The woods are a great place for beer drinkers to stumble about and decorate the rocks once our bodies are done with the beers, and that’s perennially fun guy thing to do.

But having the boys over would cut into my sitting time. I plan on being the first couch potato so sedentary that he lapses into a persistent vegetative state.

I plan on watching one John Wayne movie (probably “Red River”), one Rolling Stones concert DVD, a replay of the Steelers Super Bowl victory, the hilarious guy movies “Animal House” and “Hot Fuzz,” and about 16 hours of NCAA tournament basketball.

I’ve made some delicious seafood soup, plan on having at least one pizza and plan on grilling a juicy steak.

The whole time I’ll feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

And on Sunday evening, I’ll once again be confounded as to how a guy who can be so blissfully happy when he’s left all alone can be surprised by a jolt of euphoria at the sound of his three girls storming back into the house.

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