Monday, March 28, 2011

Stranger Danger or Twelve Down Eight To Go

I've been thinking a lot about my mortality lately. The fact that new pains seem to find their way into random parts of my body on a daily basis coupled with my fortieth birthday fast approaching and you've got a slightly hypochondriacal daddy. Unfortunately, I also have a low pain tolerance and an irrational fear of doctors, which just makes for whiny comments like, "Ouch. I should really go get that checked out," or "if that doesn't go away by my birthday..." or "Is there such thing as hangnail cancer?" Those really hurt.

Now I've been through bouts of existential thinking before - a war of attrition between meaningful and meaninglessness during my adolescence, the uncertainty of whether I wanted to live when I was drinking my life away in my late twenties and early thirties - but this feels different because I've grown very attached to my life, to my family, to my daughter. Although I'm still very much a teenager emotionally, there is no doubt left in my heart as to what in life is truly meaningful. The consequence of my certainty - the occasional bout of cognitive morbidity. If that doesn't go away by my birthday, I promise to...

start another paragraph. And another subject.

Amari's bottom left molar finally broke through last night. For the past month we've been anxiously monitoring her ever-swelling gum wondering when the hell it would finally happen. In the interim, countless tears, sleepless nights, and doses of Tylenol later, not only did the molar pop, but two others we hadn't noticed came in up above. I'm pretty sure that's twelve now, and if my Googling skills serve me correctly, that leaves only eight to go. Can I get an amen? Can I get a hallelujah? Never mind. I'll do it.

I went away this weekend to visit my buddy Matt from grad school. Matt and I used to spend every Thursday night watching TNT basketball double-headers and playing video games late into the night. Save the occasional Wii bowling at the Calverts, I honestly never play video games, but with Matt it became a ritual. When basketball season ended, we'd switch to baseball, and when the World Cup came around in 2006, Matt purchased the PS2 video game and we played and played and played until Portugal found their rightful place on the championship podium.

This time I arrived Friday afternoon, just in time for the last four Sweet Sixteen basketball games. The first two were routs, but the last two were nail-biters - in both cases coming down to the final shot. To unwind, we played eighteen holes of Wii golf, but promised to go shopping for a March Madness college basketball the next morning. The next day we palled around, made a short film about fantasy baseball (coming soon to a blog near you), and found an inexpensive used copy of March Madness '07. After Shelvin Mack hit a clutch three-pointer to complete Butler's comeback from nine points down against Florida, after the clock wound down to zero securing their improbable return trip to the Final Four, after both Matt and I developed man crushes on Bulldog's coach, Brad Steven's, we played the Madness video game (as Butler), and took them to their first national championship.

Note: Although Portugal did not win the 2006 World Cup, when Matt and I playeed again and took Spain to the title in the spring of 2010, the Spanish squad did in fact win the World Cup that summer, bringing us up to an astonishing 50% accuracy at Video Game Prophecies. Looks like Butler's bringing home the gold.

During our movie making, Matt and I each played two characters. He was an obsessed Boston Red Sox fan and a fantasy baseball Sabermetrics nerd and I was a dumb (albeit serious) player and a goofy British guy who didn't really know what he was talking about. Attempting to look different, I gave myself some lamb chop sideburns and a chin goatee, but not wanting to freak Carrie or Amari out I shaved them off before I came home. I did the same thing last time I was at Matt's, but Amari was only about six month's old, so she just tripped out on my face and touched my smooth cheeks. This time she wouldn't come near me for an hour. I'd say, "It's me, Dada," and she would look at Carrie or Granny C and roll her eyes as if to say, "Who's this guy trying to fool? I wasn't born seventeen months ago."

From the rest of the peanut gallery, I got comments like, "What happened to your face?" (Carrie) or "Ohhh, you look so...young" (Granny C with a very disappointed tone) and "Oh my God." (Siobhan) followed by an agreement with Carrie that I look better with a beard. I'm kind of used to it now because I've shaved a few times and been received with comparable warmth since I grew my beard a few years ago, but I can't say that it's entirely heart-warming that everyone thinks my face looks better covered with hair. How come nobody said anything the first 35 years of my life. Will I be getting a burka for my fortieth birthday?

I'm sure they just really love the rugged handsomeness of my beard. Either way, I won't be shaving it off in the near future unless Amari is right there to witness the transformation. It was only an hour, but it was sad to see her looking so suspicious of me. Kind of like this:

Who are you and where's my Dada?

I prefer this look:

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