Monday, June 16, 2008

Out of Office Auto-Reply, blog version

Thanks for visiting. I will be out of the office, and probably not blogging, until further notice.

That notice will probably come in two weeks when I return to work, unless I somehow become independently wealthy during the time I'm spending with my three kids. If I do become independently wealthy, I promise to write at least one more column so I can describe my good fortune in an extremely obnoxious way.

Yes, it's vacation time, meaning a chance to work on a novel, spend time with the kids and undertake household-repair jobs that are doomed to fail. I'll respond to all e-mailers when I return, unless you're a prince from Nigeria who wants my bank account info.

Humor Me: Your Father's Day future


Another Father's Day is over, and I'm glad every dad got the perfect gift.

What? Your gift was a little off the mark?

Well, maybe you didn't like the turbo nose-hair trimmer with bonus ear-hair attachment, but it probably was the perfect gift. I'm just going with the odds here, because last week the number of available "perfect for dad" gifts in this country was greater than the number of dads.

Whatever the gift, I hope every dad enjoyed Father's Day. And for all the men who are not yet fathers, let me help prepare you for what is to come. Based on the age of your oldest child, here is a look at your Father's Day future.

Age 1: Your child looks at you and says, "Dada." It's the best gift ever, although after you leave the room, your 1-year-old says "Dada" to the dog and attempts to eat a Lego.

Age 2: You're treated to a Sunday brunch, where you load up your plate with pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage, and then take it to go when your 2-year-old projectile vomits on a waiter.

Age 3: Here come the arts and crafts! You receive a drawing that looks like an abstract Humpty Dumpty with yarn, dried macaroni and more glitter than a Cyndi Lauper video from the '80s. Your 3-year-old says, "It's you, Daddy!"

Age 4: Arts and crafts again, but more advanced. Lots more glue, too, now that your 4-year-old has figured out how to unscrew the cap to the Elmer's. This year's "It's you, Daddy!" artwork gets stuck to the kitchen counter and is ripped when you try to pick it up. You say, "Don't worry, I'll fix it at work."

Age 5: A month before Father's Day, you know what your gift is because your 5-year-old tells you the "secret" every day. You plan a surprised reaction for when you unwrap the "King of the BBQ" apron.

Age 6: This year's gift is a Styrofoam cup filled with dirt. "There's a seed in there, and if you water it, it will grow," your 6-year-old says. "We did it at school." Fortunately, you didn't get the other school project: the hermit crab.

Age 7: You get your first "World's Greatest Dad" T-shirt, which you must wear at least once along with the "#1 DAD!" hat you got for Christmas. You take a drink from the "World's Best Dad" mug, remember when you gave your dad the same kind of gifts, start thinking about getting old, and then fall asleep in a recliner.

Age 8: You get a book of homemade coupons for things like "one-hour control of the remote," "one undisturbed nap" and "one take out the trash with no questions asked." Your 8-year-old says it was Mom's idea.

Age 9: The final year of the "I made it myself" gift. Might be a personalized memo pad, or a business-card holder or a handmade picture frame. You feel a little guilty as you think to yourself, "Do I need another homemade gift?"

Age 10: Asked what you want for Father's Day, you tell your 10-year-old, "I would really just like a little peace and quiet around here and for you kids to stop fighting." You have become your father.

Age 11: Father's Day reminds you it's time to have the "birds and the bees" talk with your child. Early in your rehearsed speech, your 11-year-old asks, "Does this have anything to do with sex?"

Age 12: Your child asks, "Why is there a Mother's Day and a Father's Day and there's no Kid's Day?" You respond by saying that every day is kid's day and then launch into a story that includes the phrases "money doesn't grow on trees," and "five miles, in the snow, uphill both ways."

Age 13: When asked about Father's Day, your new teenager says, "Uhh ... Do we still celebrate that?"

Age 14: The day before Father's Day, your sarcastic 14-year-old asks what you would like as a gift, then adds, "I'll need some of that money that grows on trees to pay for it."

Age 15: Your teenager, who would prefer to be called a "young adult," surprises you with a gift that you really wanted: the complete final season of The Sopranos. You watch about half of the first episode, remember how good it was, then fall asleep in a recliner.

Age 16: The family's newest, most dangerous driver calls to wish you a Happy Father's Day and then adds, "Something is wrong with the car." You soon discover why something is wrong: Your 16-year-old sideswiped a Taco Bell drive-thru menu while "stopping for a snack as I went to find you a present."

Age 17: It's Father's Day, and your teenager is off somewhere. You decide this is not such a bad thing. Nice and quiet.

Age 18: Now it's too quiet. Your 18-year-old has made it to adulthood, and you can't find anyone who will listen to your story that ends with, "and that's how I met your mother." You pull out your artwork gift from 15 years earlier, reminisce about how quickly the years have passed and realize you now have the same balding pattern as the squiggly Humpty Dumpty with the macaroni hair.

It turns out your 3-year-old was right. It really is you, Daddy.

A few minutes later, the phone rings. It's your 18-year-old calling to wish you a Happy Father's Day, but you've already fallen asleep in a recliner.

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