The wife was sick. No words strike greater terror into the father of four and a half than ‘sick’ and ‘wife’, especially such a father whose wife is a homeschooling, stay at home mom.
Oh, sure, everything starts out ok. I mean, how hard is four bowls of cereal (replete with banana shavings and banana chunks, since I can’t chop evenly) really? The baby eats like a champ, and I’m not foolish enough to think that this isn’t because of the novelty of Daddy doing the feeding.
Yes, my wife spoils me rotten. No, I’m not ashamed of myself. Moving on…
This is day two, and I decide that I need to get the kids out of the house. Nothing major, nothing I haven’t done before. However, today is library day.
Foolish me. I’m prepared for this. This will be cake. After all, look how well breakfast went!
We get the van loaded, the children all nestled in every conceivable safety precaution against danger short of bubble wrap. There’s some diabolical numerology involved in a three year old girl, a five point restraint, and two bowls of sugar frosted O’s; I’m sure it foretells the coming judgement somehow, but at any rate, it makes for a lot of patience being blown early. It’s ok, though, no problem.
Many Veggie Tales Silly Songs later (as much for the kids as me, I’ll own up), we go through The Pledge.
“OK, kids, we’re going to be on our best behavior in here, right?”
The children allow that they will indeed behave well.
“We’re going to use our quiet voices, ok?”
The children consent to collective quiet.
“We’ll do what Daddy says without argument, or we’ll go home, is that clear?”
The children confess to the clarity seen in my previous statement, solemn as parsons, calm as cucumbers.
I unstrap them, and lead them inside our community library. I’ve been here before. I have a list of books that I need to collect, but I’m a grown man. I served my time in the 80′s southern Pub Ed system and their insistence upon Messr. Dewey’s method; how hard can it be?
As it turns out, it can be impossible. The card catalog of my childhood is replaced by a PC, a golf pencil, and a hint of paper. The latter objects are for noting your inability to find anything in the most circuitous, infuriating, labyrinthine web application devised. When Hell upgrades their methods of moving between the inner and outer circles, the modern Dante will surely be using our library’s search engine to find his way.
I can’t find any of the books my ailing lady wife has listed, but again, I am secure in the inherent order of the building; I’ll simply make my way through the stacks and find what I’m looking for. I’m sure this is what Moses was thinking, Jews arrayed behind him, on day one of that forty year hike through the desert.
Apparently children’s books need to be split into not one, not two, but three sections, and it is of tantamount importance that they be classified in different methods in each section. Dewey makes an appearance in one of them, however my subject (China) is in great demand, as I can find every nation on earth (including, heaven help me, Uzbekistan) in the Geography section but it. I truly cannot find China with both hands and search engine, and the baby is squirming mightily.
I would ask a librarian, but they’re busy, as it turns out, readying themselves for Story Time. “Ah”, says I to myself, slyly, “I shall drop the kids in story time and try again.” This I attempt.
My daughter, however, has decided that the young mother’s baby to our right is the most interesting plaything, and is reaching for him despite said mother’s discomfort. I gently pull my daughter to my left side. Or try.
She’s not having any of it, and her insistence on the matter is getting progressively louder. I pull her away from the group and whisper in her ear that she is to sit on my left. Apparently, this is three year old girl for “arm and detonate”, because she goes off like Fat Boy over Hiroshima.
The experiment is over. I pull my children out, the smell of failure oozing from my pores. I am a terrible parent.
Why the digression, you ask? What has this to do with marrying a blogger?
The next day, at work, the first person I see says to me, “Hi Jess. How was the library?”
“Uhh, ok, I suppose.” I’m wondering, was this person there? Do I have a golf pencil still stuck behind my ear?
A little later, from someone else : “How’d you make out at the library?”
Is my name Truman? Is my poor performance the butt of company gossip? “OK, I guess…”
Later, outside our building, I run across a friend whom I haven’t seen in almost a year. “Jessssss!” he calls out, “How’d things go at the library?”
Just before I begin to drool, it finally hits me. Facebook.
Random people know about my life because my life is a part of my wife’s life, and my wife’s life is part of the collective knowledge which is the Internet, or as I am more and more coming to think of it, Them.
You people know more about me than does my pastor, my co-workers (except those co-workers following my wife), and in some ways, my children. (Although sooner or later, their reading skills will engulf an RSS feed aggregator, so this will balance out.)
I am not a public person. I have tried using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, Google+, Instant Messaging, IRC, Offline Mail, and every other electronic social interaction since before most of you knew the difference between a web page and a wombat, and you can verify that by the string of inactive accounts on servers across the face of the planet. I’ve tried, and found I can’t stand them.
I love people, but I can’t stand graffiti, and that’s pretty much what social interaction over the Internet becomes, vehicles like blogs barely excluded. If you have any experience with CB Radio over the last few decades, you’ll know exactly what I mean; the easier it is to talk over a given channel, the less intelligent the conversation on that channel becomes. This is why ham radio enthusiasts exist; you can only talk to them if you took a test and earned a license. My attempts at legislating an Internet license continue….
On the other end, I don’t have much to say, really. Or at least, I have a lot to say very, very infrequently, as evidenced by the above.
So it is fascinating to see the woman I married, who started out being even quieter, less outgoing than I, become the central hub of a huge network of total strangers who know about how I had planned to take the kids out to the library.
She is kind, my wife. I am, in many respects, an absolutely terrible human being, rife with issues and ailments that would be, to most people surfing the wave of public interest, comedy gold. Yet she has never taken advantage of this, and has always portrayed me as a good husband, father, and provider. You people believing this image is as intimidating as it gets, and I try to live up to this. It only now occurs to me that she knows this, and therefore…
No, too paranoid. Never mind.
At any rate, while I read her blog religiously (because A. Google Reader doesn’t require me to talk to people, B. I enjoy her blog, and C. What kind of idiot do you take me for?), I should really follow her on Facebook more closely, even if that does mean I have to filter through the mental quagmire of all the people I’ve friended (read as family) in order to do it. It would be easier on my paranoid reflex.
And so you know, the library didn’t go so well.