Friday, October 24, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

The following is a piece of a conversation between my wife and one of my daughter Maya's friends. His name is Martin. He's seven.

Martin: Do you play Warcraft?

My Wife: Oh, no. No.

Martin: Why not?

My Wife: I don't have time. I have to go to work, do laundry, vacuum, pick up dog crap, help Maya with her homework, do the dishes and lots of other stuff.(1)

Martin: Does Maya's Dad help you?

My Wife: Not really, no.

Martin: Uh... Well... He's still a cool guy, right?

My Wife's response was something along the lines of "Yes". That is, if you consider a loud snort followed by hearty laughter along the lines of "Yes", which I do.

I think I am still a cool guy, even though I could certainly do more around the house, help more with Maya, and get a job. Not that I don't do anything. In fact I just baked Chunky Peanut Butter Squares. Really. I took out some trash and put some dishes in the dishwasher. It's not a lot of work, I know. I'm pacing myself. Maybe this afternoon I'll take all my shoes upstairs.

The whole thing got me thinking about what makes someone a "cool guy". I realized everyone's definition is different. Martin, for instance, thinks I'm a cool guy because we talk Warcraft and I play tag with the other kids before school. Martin is seven. He's easily impressed.

My Wife, despite the fact that I don't do much housework and currently only bring in $32 a month in net income, still thinks I am a cool guy. I make her laugh and... I also... Um... Making someone laugh goes a long way, I guess.

The thing is, I think I'm a cool guy. That's what really counts. I don't let my job, or possesions, or what someone else thinks define me. Not anymore. I learned you have to be comfortable with yourself. You have to be lucky enough to be surrounded by people who love and support you, no matter what. You could hang around with 7 year olds, but that is not only missing the point, it's probably a misdemeanor.

And "cool" is relative.

You still closely follow the career of an 80's teen idol? Better than being lined up for the first showing of "HSM3: Senior Year" (I'll wait for the DVD). Tivo every episode of "Gossip Girl"? At least you're not clearing your schedule to watch it when it's on. You've seen "Caddyshack" 31 times? There are people who've seen "Caddyshack II". All the way through.

It's easy to get caught up in feeling like you're no good. You're your own worst critic. (Unless you're James Blunt, then I'm your worst critic). I struggle daily with how I got to be 40 years old and I have no idea what I want to do for a living. It bothers me that I wasn't a very good Dad to my son when he was growing up. It gnaws at me that I can't forgive my own father for the mistakes he's made, some of which are no worse than my own. I'm lazy. I don't keep in touch with people like I should. I could lose a few pounds, take better care of myself. Etcetera. I accept these and the thousands of other flaws in me. I work on the ones I can, when I can.

Nobody is perfect. Lots of people are cool. You don't have to be perfect to be cool. You just have to be you.

Perfectly you.

It probably wouldn't hurt to do your own laundry once in awhile, too.

(1) "other stuff" would be defined as ordering stuff from QVC. It's not all dog crap and vacuuming.

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