So, I was sitting in front of my computer screen Friday afternoon, trying to figure out what to write about, when inspiration struck.
Actually, what happened was that I was struggling with a column about how I drive my kids nuts by answering questions with a lyric from a 1980s rock song. For example, if they ask if I can make their eggs scrambled, I might answer with “Any way you want it.” (That’s Journey off the 1980 album “Departure,” for those who might not remember.)
But then my daughter called to ask if she could spend an extra night helping her aunt and uncle in Kasilof with some sled dog kennel and personal-use fishing chores.
With my other child away at camp for the week, and my wife headed to Anchorage to run a marathon, that would leave me all by myself for the evening.
“Are you really going to leave your dear old Dad alone?” I asked.
“Well, you’ll have the dogs to keep you company,” came the quick rebuttal.
And with that, I was on my own.
Now, don’t misunderstand, it doesn’t bother me to be alone. As somewhat of an introvert, I appreciate having some time to myself. It’s just, for me, it happens so infrequently that when it does — especially when it comes up unexpectedly — I don’t always know what to do with myself.
For starters, there’s planning how to spend that time. Normally when I find myself flying solo, I know a few days in advance, so I can plan something. More often than not, it will involve catching up on some work at the office. But with Friday’s change of plans coming out of the blue, I found myself overwhelmed with choices. And there was extra pressure to make a good decision, with beautiful whether and nothing on the calendar Friday, but predicted rain and a full slate of commitments on Saturday.
What to do? Go for a bike ride? Mow the lawn? Work on the canoe (yes, it’s still not done)? Just sit still and take in the peace and quiet?
For me, watching some soccer won out. While I missed the day’s World Cup matches live, I was able to watch the highlight and analysis shows without the constant “Are we really going to watch this?” and the changing of the channel whenever I get up for a bathroom break. In fact, while I got to watch lots of soccer last weekend, I had to pull the “It’s Father’s Day” card to switch back to the game on more than one occasion.
In addition to soccer, Friday night is usually movie night in the Morrow household. Sometimes we try to pick one movie for everyone to watch; other times we split up and get different ones for Mom and Dad and the kids, or one for the boys and one for the girls. But on Friday I got to pick one from the “you’re the only one who wants to see this” category — usually some sci-fi/action flick, or one of those films that you really have to think about.
While picking the movie sounds appealing, there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. You don’t want to end up with something so bad you feel like you wasted your time. By the same token, I always feel kind of guilty if, in the middle of the movie, I start thinking that my wife or the kids would really love this one. That sweet spot can be tough to hit.
Likewise, there’s meals to think about. Just as there’s the movies nobody wants to watch except me, there’s food nobody likes except me. In our house, that menu includes such things as pasta with pesto sauce, anything blackened, and — believe it or not — hot dogs. How is it my kids don’t like hot dogs?
Anyway, I went with the sci-fi action movie (though I think my son would have really enjoyed it) and some pesto sauce with extra garlic. And as a bonus, “Field of Dreams” was on TV — which I never would have known had I been viewing with certain other family members because we would have switched on some real estate or home renovation show as soon as the movie ended.
As for the column about torturing my kids with 80s song lyrics, in the words of White Lion off their 1987 album “Pride,” that will just have to “Wait.”
Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.