Captive Audience

15 05 2013

I always thought one of the bonuses of having a child would be the fact that they are, in most important ways, your captive.

At least until they reach a certain age the kid simply CAN’T leave. They lack the speed, mobility, language skills, and the ability to use adult size toilets. They just aren’t fit for the world at large. They are stuck right where they are – which is in a relationship with you, their parent – or in this case with me.

There are large swathes of my life that I have spent alone. I don’t mean alone as in lonely or not in a relationship. I mean alone as in the only guy in the house or in the car. Truly and actually alone. I don’t mind this. It has always actually suited me pretty well.

But the person that exists in these “alone times” is a bit different than the person that exists in public. I assume this is true of everyone but I guess I can never be sure. It isn’t some giant transformation of character that occurs – it is simply that the outward behavior more accurately reflects what is going on inside my head. The general rules of society are lifted. A filter is removed.

I will eat pasta with my hands and spill food on my clothes and just sit there in my filth. I will eat cream cheese icing from those little cans with a spoon. I will swill Diet Pepsi straight from the 2 liter bottle. I will sit down to pee just because I am indeed that lazy. Sometimes I will dance alone to odd tunes, careful to never look in the mirror and break my personal illusion of grace and coolness. Stuff like that.

Alone in my car I am more limited, thus my insanity becomes more focused. It’s just me and whatever music I have on my iPhone – and this is where things get kind of weird.

I will listen to, sing along with, and completely and utterly enjoy music that is universally considered stupid or juvenile or simply not cool. I will listen to songs I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to in public, songs that would leave me as a simple puddle of shame if any woman I was interested in discovered them on my iPhone playlist. And I will do it with complete joy. I will do it completely and utterly without irony or sarcasm.

I will jam to “How Bizarre” by OMC or just hum along with the Gin Blossoms or Matchbox Twenty. “Since You Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson is an all time favorite and a back to back double shot of Avril Lavigne’s ” Complicated” and “Sk8ter Boi” is not unheard of.

This is the real me, or it sort of is, and it is completely unshared – primarily because everybody else in the world would find it unbearably annoying. This is where I thought having a kid might come in handy.

With my own child snugly shackled in her car seat I could groom a companion – someone to love this awful music with me. Someone that would look forward to listening to the whole soundtrack from “Pretty in Pink” from beginning to end and get teary eyed with me on “If You Leave”. Someone with whom I could develop a complicated repertoire of synchronized car dancing moves. This was my hope and my dream.

Ellis would HAVE to love these songs wouldn’t she. They would be drilled into her head like the Khmer Rouge drilled Marxist ideology into the unwitting Cambodian populace at re-education camps. (An unsettling but perhaps accurate comparison). She would have no choice. The songs would become deeply embedded in her brain, intertwined with her love and adoration for her wonderful father who always drove her places and gave her cookies and wiped her bottom. We would be a team – inseparable in our love for “Private Eyes” by Hall & Oates – our affection for each other cemented when we clapped as one between the lines “Private Eyes” and “Been watching you” or when both our faces lit up every time the intro line of “Mambo #5” played on the radio. This is what family is for right? Merciless indoctrination.

That was the plan anyway. Turns out children have a mind and personality of their own. Who knew? Driving home from her school yesterday I tried to get her to sing along to “Easy” by the Commodores. She looked at me with disgust, kicked her legs like a spoiled 3 year old (which in fact she is) and said “Daddy – something with DRUMS please!”

I guess I will always have my alone time.



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