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STYLE & CULTURE | THE GUY CHRONICLES / CHRIS ERSKINE

Why dad is usually on the run

October 30, 2002|CHRIS ERSKINE

OUT the door we go on this autumn weekend, the holidays already in full gear. In case you haven't noticed, the holidays now start with the World Series and end with the Super Bowl. That's right, four magic months.

"Daddy?" the little girl asks.

"Yes?"

"What's your favorite part of Thanksgiving?"

"The wine," I say.

"I like the turkey," says the little girl.

"Suit yourself," I say.

On this Saturday morning, I'm taking a bunch of kids to a Halloween festival, where I browse the silent auction and pass the time talking to my buddy Glynn. Great guy, Glynn. Find him at a lunch table, inhaling a hot dog.

"We play touch football now," I say.

"When?"

"Every Sunday," I say.

"See that dad over there?" he says.

"Sure."

"Played linebacker for Arizona."

Then on to the little girl's soccer game we go, at a mere 3 mph over the speed limit. Earlier in the week, I received notice that there's a warrant out for my arrest. Yep, a warrant, over a boating ticket I received last summer. Should've cleared it up quickly. Tucked it away in a desk and forgot.

"Your failure to promptly post bail may result in your arrest and/or the imposition of additional penalties by the court," the letter says.

Martha Stewart is still free and terrorizing the nation, and they're coming after me over this little boating ticket. Me, a guy who worships football and Bruce Springsteen. A guy who calls his mom every week. Heck, I don't even own a handgun.

"Dad?" says a voice from the back seat.

"What now?"

"We're going to be late," the little girl says.

I stop at all stop signs. I signal at all turns. There is nothing new about this, except that I take each action twice. There's a warrant out for my arrest. Just my luck I'd get pulled over for something stupid and the warrant would turn up.

"What's the problem, officer?" I'd ask.

"You just did something stupid," the traffic cop would say.

When doing something stupid can land a guy in jail, no one is safe. Especially me.

"We're going to be late," the little girl mutters again.

Like most fugitives, I stay on the move. We dart between pumpkin festivals and soccer fields. Liquor stores and dry cleaners. In the evening, we attend a couples' baby shower. Who'd look for a fugitive there?

At the shower, I forget about being on the run. We watch Game 6 and nearly scream the roof off of Pete and Linda's nice home. It seems pretty well made, this place. But during that big 7th inning, I swear the ceiling lifted several inches. And when Glaus doubled in the 8th, I swear it took 10 years off their house.

"Are all baby showers like this?" I ask.

"God, what a game," Gary says.

"You need another beer," says Hank.

A couples' baby shower. Thought you'd never find me there, did you? Neither did my wife, who broached the idea a month before.

"What would you think about a couples' shower?" she asked, warily.

"I like when couples shower," I answered.

"That wasn't the question," she said.

I would never try to romanticize this situation. I know what a baby can do. I know what a baby is capable of. They grow to be kids, then teenagers. It's nothing to be taken lightly, childbirth.

"Sure, a shower would be great," I finally say.

My lovely wife looks at me the way she often looks at me. As if examining a strange bug that has crawled across the window pane. She leans in close. She squints a little.

Ever get that look? A look that says maybe her girlfriends were right about you back in 1982? That maybe she should've listened?

"You sure?" she says, surprised and confused by such an easy victory.

This unplanned pregnancy has affected us both in strange ways. When she runs into people she hasn't seen for a while--her belly out to there, draped like a couch in storage--they are amazed and excited for her.

She seems so happy and content, they just assume she has remarried.

"Is he a different father?" they ask.

"In some ways, yes," she says.

Some ways better, some ways worse.

*

Next week: A couples' baby shower.

Chris Erskine's column is published Wednesdays. He can be reached at chris.erskine@latimes.com.

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