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Why Daddy Can't Write

May 05, 2003
May 05, 2003

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May 5, 2003

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Why Daddy Can't Write

Take our Daughters to Work Day was last Thursday, so I took my
13-year-old, Rae, for the first time. Hey, a kid will do anything
to miss a day of school. By noon she was begging to go back.

This is an article from the May 5, 2003 issue Original Layout

Maybe she thought that at my office Shaq would be shooting Nerf
hoops with swimsuit models while guys in fedoras clackety-clacked
out metaphors in the back room.

Uh, nope.

It was a lot of conversations like this:

HER: Dad, what are you doing now?

ME: Planning my next column.

HER: With your eyes closed?

ME: Yes.

HER: Lying on the couch?

ME: Yes.

HER: How long does it take you to write a column?

ME: About two hours.

HER: And you only have to do one a week?

ME: Yes.

HER: Cool! What do you do with all the rest of the time?

ME: Worry about those two hours.

After about an hour of that, she was going out of her teenage
mind, so I let her wade into a giant box of unopened mail.

HER: Why do all these Barry Bonds fans cut little letters out of
magazines and make sentences out of them?

ME: I guess they get to do a lot of arts and crafts at the mental
health center.

HER: What does this mean, "If I ever see you, run"?

ME: Uh, that's from my personal trainer.

After a while, she had called all her friends, e-mailed all her
friends, faxed all her friends and text-messaged all her friends.

HER: What are you doing now?

ME: Planning my next column.

HER: Is it going to be about golf?

ME: No.

HER: Then why are you putting?

ME: It helps me think.

HER: Has it helped so far?

ME: No.

HER: Would it help more if one of the balls went in the thingy?

Nothing was coming to me, so I went and did a little planning at
the driving range. I asked her to answer the phone while I was
gone. When I came back, she was beaming.

HER: Daddy, a man called. Very nice. Said he's a hunter. He wants
you to be sure you never walk alone.

ME: Uh, O.K.

HER: And a book reviewer from some New York paper called.

ME: Really?!

HER: Yeah, he said he got your new book and wants you to know
he's going to waste no time reading it.

ME: Oh.

She's good at math, so I gave her a crack at my expense account.

HER: Hey, all these cabdrivers have handwriting like yours!

ME: Yeah. Weird, huh?

HER: "Cab to church, $27." Mom says it would take a team of
Clydesdales to drag you to church.

ME: O.K., it was the racetrack. But people were praying.

HER: Who's Lamar Higgenbottom?

ME: Lamar Higgenbottom.... Beats me.

HER: Says on this receipt you took him to dinner.

ME: Oh, sure! Nice fella.

After alphabetizing my books, rearranging my bottom-drawer
ketchup packets and trying on all my hats, she sighed and said,
"What do you think other dads are doing with their daughters?"

ME: Well, the Detroit Red Wings are doing the same thing as I am,
lying around on the couch. And Hootie Johnson started the day by
telling his daughter, "O.K., you stay in the parking lot, and
I'll meet you at five." And whatever Jose Canseco and his
daughter are doing, it's not more than 100 yards from their den,
what with the court-ordered house arrest and all.

HER: Dad, are you trying lines out on me?

ME: Yes.

HER: Kimberly's probably having fun. Her dad works at the halfway
house.

ME: Sometimes I write about the Portland Trail Blazers.

HER: Oh! Her dad wanted me to tell you he goes to sleep every
week reading your column!

ME: Oh, well, thanks.

Finally, my wife, Linda, came by and asked how Take Our Daughters
to Work Day was going. We both groaned.

RAE: I don't think Dad likes this part of town to work in.

mom: Why?

RAE: He said the worst part about his job is this damn writer's
block.

I leaped up and started typing furiously.

RAE: Did you get a good column idea?

ME: No, but I'm writing anyway.

B/W PHOTO: JEFFERY A. SALTER
Maybe my daughter thought that at my office Shaq would be
shooting Nerf hoops with swimsuit models.