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Friday, March 9, 2012

Donuts with Dad

     I dragged myself in through the front door, briefcase wrapped around my neck like a black nylon noose, my motivation and hope for a fruitful career dragging along somewhere behind me.  The children had already had the fast-food of the day for dinner and it looked like I was on my own.
     The latest animated brain leach was playing on the television so I dropped my few belongings in the entry way and wandered into the kitchen in search of something more sustaining than Ramen noodles.  I think I must have finally settled on saltines and peanut butter, because I distinctly remember a set of sad, puppy dog eyes peering at me from over the super-sized jar of Jiffy.
     "Daddy, do you have to work tomorrow?"
     Oh crap, here we go again.  Another field trip/career day/school wide musical presentation/awards assembly that I was going to have to miss all because Bank of America expects to receive timely and consistent mortgage payments.  I am pretty sure I have already secured my spot on the Mount Rushmore of good intentioned fathers who were over-promised and underperformed to their families and to themselves.  This was going to be just another pebble on the rock pile, but that wasn't going to make me feel any less crappy about it.
     "Well, see son, I have court in the morning and all these people are depending on me to keep their homes and their cars.  So, uh, yeah, I have to work in the morning, but what's up?"
     "You know how they have Muffins with Mom?  Well tomorrow is Donuts with Dad. Can you come?"  A whiff of opportunity fluttered past, there may be a way to salvage this after all.
     "Donuts with Dad, huh?  What time?"
     "I think like, 7:00 am or something."
     7:00 am.  Quick man think!  If I get up 30 minutes early, skip shaving, eat two donuts in three bites, hop onto my lap top while driving to work to check on docket updates, buy and train some carrier pigeons to send last minute scheduling changes to clients, beat myself up in the court house bathroom a la Liar Liar style to explain to the federal judge why I was late to his court, I can pull this off!
     "You bet son.  Let's do it."  Looking somewhat shocked I was actually going, the male member of the tribe bounded off to absorb in the loving rays of the xBox 360.
     I don't know how long Donuts with Dads has been around, or when the first Donuts with Dads took place.  I don't remember having it when I was growing up, so my first jaded instinct is that Dunkin Donuts, or that upstart Krispy Kreme (before the questionable accounting) must have started the tradition.  Jim Dayton captured some of our secret fantasies about what should really happen at Donuts with Dad.
     Cue the airy crack of dawn sound track.  The next morning, at 6:45 am, I woke up both the boys.  Mind you, we should have been leaving at 7:00, but a particular spouse who will remain nameless sometimes likes to mess with me just to get a reaction.  Clothes mostly fastened, hair brushed with the swoop of a hand, off we went to Donuts with Dads.
     In record time, I rolled into the school parking lot and found the spot closest to the door.  After the cloud of white tire smoke cleared, I couldn't help but notice that the only other cars in the parking lot belonged to assistant head janitor and to some of the cafeteria ladies.  No worry, we were here to claim donuts and laugh heartily as men with rolls of fried sugar are inclined to do.
     Glancing at the clock, I was anxious to get my diabetic's delight and then get on the road.  The boys decided that they couldn't take their backpacks in the cafeteria and trundled off towards the central holding cell for the general population.  About the same time, the teacher's aid responsible for monitoring the holding cell aka gym walked in the door and scowled when she saw us.
     "You can't be here till 7:30! My shift doesn't start till 7:30! Why are you here before 7:30? And no donuts till 7:30!"
     I smiled that helpless Dad smile that was intended to communicate: a) I am here with my sons, you gotta give me some credit for that; and, b) I was told 7:00 so back off of me.  I said nothing, which I am sure communicated: I am a mindless dolt that wanders around in a bleary-eyed haze, oblivious to the notes you send home in my child's back pack; and by the way is there any bourbon to add to the coffee?  We departed for the cafeteria before she could mace me.
     As good luck would have it, the donuts came out 10 minutes early.  Mind you, this was actually 20 minutes late according to the schedule I hatched the night before.  Fortunately, I had opted against showering or looking for clean clothes, so I still had time to spare.
     While we finished up the prime donuts and drinks that we were able to snatch by being first, I started taking stock of my surroundings.  I tried not to make eye contact with the kids who filtered in from the holding cell, they had neither father nor mother with them and were not allowed to have donuts.  Across the main aisle, I saw one kid sitting with just his dad, foregoing any early morning tom-foolery with his buddies so that he could have some dad time all to himself.  And dad?  He was so engrossed in his blackberry that I thought the mother ship had just beamed him the cure to cancer and the cell phone number of a top-notch publicist.  Dad wasn't just answering a text or an email.  He spent enough time on that thing he could have been reading War and Peace.  Well played Dad.
     The boys and I bantered back and forth a while, they brought me muffins from the table, I stole sips out of their chocolate milk.  Not exactly Dad of the Year stuff, but we were having fun.  And then Rag Tag sat down at our table.
     Rag Tag was smaller and younger than my two sons, based on their reaction I wasn't even sure they knew who he was.  Rag Tag was a quiet fellow, with dark hair and dark eyes.  He didn't say anything when he sat down, but he was watching us intently.  He was eating cereal, so I assumed he must have escaped from the gymnasium meter maid that had assaulted me earlier.
     While he was watching, I made a show of taking a bite of donut from one of the boys when they weren't looking.  Rag Tag grinned at me, and I asked him if he needed help opening his cereal.  He flexed his arm to show me his mighty guns, and then returned to struggling with the cereal container.
     Finally, Rag Tag told me, "I don't have a Dad."  Both my boys were quiet now, looking at me and waiting to see what I was going to do.  And then, making a circling motion between me, my boys and Rag Tag I said the lamest thing to ever come out of my mouth.
     "That's ok, bud.  Between the four of us we can share."
     Rag Tag was quiet a minute and then told me that he actually had two dads, giving first names of people I wouldn't know even if they had been standing right behind me.  We talked for a while, and I told Rag Tag that my oldest boy had two dads and some guys just got lucky that way.  Rag Tag gathered up his cereal and went back to join his mates from the holding cell.  Well played Two Dads.
     Donuts with Dads.  I don't care if was a marketing gimmick by Big Doughy Sugary Industry insiders or not.  It is worth it.  Go. TYGKEMXZYGCS


  1. Brought tears to my eyes...Amazing!

  2. Funny blog, parenting is the best lesson ever learned.

  3. You're a pretty cool dad. Especially when you rap...