Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Father's Survival Kit: Item #4 An escape hatch

Pack lightly

Every father needs a way out... A secret tunnel through which he can duck the smothering, tentacular embrace of parenthood... You know it's true. But let me be clear: By "escape hatch," I don't mean some namby-pamby MAN ROOM in the basement--no, I don't mean anything so prosaic and so STRAIGHT OUT OF A SITCOM like that.

...What the hey-hey do you mean, Unit?

Let me explain. A worthwhile escape hatch must be in the massive, life-altering scale of the following:

  1. A one-way plane ticket to Brazil
  2. A secret inheritence
  3. An acceptance letter to the Cordon Bleu, which is tucked away in that suitcase in your JFK lockbox.
  4. Or, if you are really freaking delusional, your ex-girl friend from high school with the MAD SKILLZ... That girl who is, you are 99.88888% sure, willing to drop the life she has built up over the last fifteen years for you, her one and only true love. All you have to do is send her one Facebook private message, and love is reborn...

Nothing less than the above examples will do. No Man Room! No yearly golfing trip with your shitty buddies. None of this I-wanna-be-in-a-Seth-Rogen-movie-because-I-am-pathetic type of crap. Because, for God's sake, you are a Brooklyn hipster parent, and any such moronic crap is beneath you. Got it? Understand? Okay... Now, BRACE THYSELF. Because here comes the hard part: Just because you have this escape hatch, it doesn't mean you should or will use it. Just because you have squirreled away a little money, or just because you friended her the other day... it does not mean you should ABANDON YOUR FAMILY. I mean, really, do you want to make your kid a victim of divorce just like you? No, I didn't think so. You want to do better. You want to raise your child with less irreparable soul-crushing DAMAGE than was done onto you. You believe in progress. You are an optimist.

They love you not

In this case, then, you must think of your escape hatch as a parental pressure release valve. It is enough to know it is there. Take, for example, that ticket to Brazil. When, at the end of a bad day, in which you have performed whatever menial and intellectually degrading task you have to perform in order to put FOOD ON THE TABLE (like a circus animal)... When you arrive home dreaming your small fatherly dreams--of MAULING your half of the Fairway rotisserie chicken, and chasing it down with a Guinness--when you come home with your lowly expectations... And all that greets you is a messy Brooklyn apartment and a spouse (who perhaps works, who perhaps does not, whatever) who is equally as tired as you... When you get home and the baby is eating ice cream and watching TV and you think to yourself, I am raising a fat, indulged TV-addled child, and I'm too tired to do anything about... When you reach that hopeless point in your day, just stick a hand into your breast pocket, where that plane ticket is. Yes, it's right there, next to your heart and within easy reach, like a new lover. Pat it, feel its papery surface, worry its corners. My precious... But for God's sake. Do not use it, man.

So you see, this escape hatch is really a deterrent, like the nuclear stockpiles of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and today. Rattle the sabers, but keep your fingers off the button.


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