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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Loyalty: It makes me an asshole


Does it say "asshole" in the title of this post?


I realize that I don't swear on this blog (maybe I have on occasion and I just don't remember at the moment). And that probably most of the bloggers I read use "fuckshitwadmotherfuckingbitchslutcocktits", or other words with similar effect, with regularity and great humor.

I don't.

I swear a lot. In e-mail, in comments on other blogs (where appropriate), out loud, in front of my daughter. I was at the ballpark on Sunday and I yelled out "What a chickenshit!" then noticed the dad with his two kids sitting immediately in front of me. "I mean poopyhead. Sorry dude."

I don't think I make a conscious choice to not swear. It just doesn't occur to me to do so in print.

Well, today, fuck that noise.

I'm pissed at myself, because I caught myself being an asshole today and then kept right on being an asshole anyway. Asshole asshole asshole.

Erin and her grandma (from that Mohawk reservation near Massena New York, kids. I was the dumbass running in jeans through Washington Square Park) and I were at Le Boulanger in Menlo Park today (because we roll the suburban eateries like that). Emily joined us about halfway through, and just after I had noticed one of Erin's baby friends from way back in her Day One days was in the restaurant with us.

This kid was older than Erin, and had "graduated" out of the formal playgroup a few months before Erin and I stopped going. His mother and I were friendly, mostly because he was pretty cute and hung out over on my side of the parachute floormat most of the time. She always seemed a little sad, and tired, though. And through the group conversations she eventually revealed that she and her husband were separating, and divorcing.

Her son was months old.

Fuck that.

Ok, so I don't know anything about it. But she was kind of a friend, and she always seemed so sad, and tired, and it all made sense once I knew that her husband wasn't in the picture on a daily basis. Want to know what the opposite of a stay-at-home-dad is? That douchebag.

Again, I don't know anything about it. But I can't help it. I'm still a little pissed off that I let myself become an asshole for a second because of this loser.

The kid was at the restaurant with his father, and I kind of recognized him, so I must have met him at a party or something. I was happy to see the kid, and I said "Hey pal", and I turned to the douchebag, er, dad, and said "Hi, Erin and your son used to go to Day One together." And then he said:

"Oh, I know. I remembered you."


Fuck you douchebag.

Because that "you" was loaded with all kinds of "the dad who hangs out with the moms", "the dad I'm suspicious of", "the dad who thinks he's better than me" shit.

Sure, most of that is in my head. But he's the one who said, and emphasized "you". And it wasn't a "I didn't recognize your daughter, but I recognized you" kind of emphasis. And it wasn't a "Even though you seem to have recognized my son but don't remember me I remember you" kind of emphasis. It contained secret thoughts that he couldn't keep off of his face. Just for a second.

It bothered the hell out of me, that "you". Because I do my best to be sincere and above-board. I'm the male in a female group (groups, really), and I have to be aware of the explanation and accounting that must be given when I meet the husbands. "This is Shawn. He's the dad. Feel threatened or inferior by his dedication to his daughter and his support of his wife's career, husband. Also, he's shockingly handsome and I hang out with him All. The. Time." I try to stay cool, and I absolutely resent any implication that I'm anything but honest and respectful.

His son started making the sign for "milk". He and Erin had been in a signing playgroup when she was 6 months old and he was 9 or 10 months old. "Ah, still keeping up the signing, are you?" I asked, completely without agenda. I swear.

"Yeah. He uses his eight signs."

Eight wasn't a boast, so it had to have been the truth.

So what did I do, at the table next to the douchebag who was out with his son for lunch and who had made the mistake of an emphasis?

I spent 5 minutes cycling through all of the signs Erin could recognize or perform. I didn't say "Hey, douchebag, watch what my kid can do!" It only occurred to me after the first minute or so that I was even doing it. I realized right away why I was doing it: even though I knew nothing of their marriage, I assumed he was a jerk because my acquaintanceship was with his wife, who always looked sad and tired. And I wanted to show him up a little bit, for that "you".

But come on. That's an asshole move. Continuing to do so after recognizing what I was doing was an even bigger asshole move. Because it was using his thoughts about his kid against him: "Wow, she really knows a lot of signs and she's a lot younger and maybe I haven't been doing enough with my son to teach him and maybe my son just isn't as smart."

I feel badly about that. I should have just called him a fucktard to his face and left it at that.


Swirl Girl said...

Don't worry about it. Assholes have teflon linings. That's how you know you aren't one. No teflon!

SciFi Dad said...

I'm sorry Shawn, but now that you've outed yourself as, well, not perfect and just plain old human, I simply cannot read your blog anymore.

I mean, really? You're beating yourself up about this?

Sometimes, you've got to be the warden in Cool Hand Luke: "What we got here is... failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach, so you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets

Some men, you just can't reach.

Sandie Law said...

Dude, you are no more of an asshole than he is. Don't stress about it. You could have just called him a fucktard and left, but that would have been a pretty asshole move too.

You are a great dad. That paragraph about what mom's are thinking when they introduce you to their husbands...priceless and totally true.

I hate that parenting activities are still assumed to be the role of the mom. More than that, I hate that some dads think that's ok and don't get involved in their kids' lives.

Much as you might have succumbed to the asshole urge, you are a good man who loves his kid. Enjoy that.

Mary Beth said...

Even super-dads are allowed human failings once in a while. Be careful because you just used up this month's foibles and now have to be perfect for the next 23 days:)

Danielle said...

This is funny. And not because you said fucktard. Which is really just hilarity all by itself.

But it's interesting to see dads sizing each other up the same way that moms do. That stay-at-home dads and working dads maybe sort of struggle with their role just as moms.

And that they can pull out the passive aggressive claws, too.

Although I would have loved to see you call him a fucktard... *snicker*

Jenni said...

Eh, it was kind of a shitty thing do to, but he's still a much bigger asshole. And you were being an asshole BECAUSE he is such an enormous asshole, so really, it's his fault in the first place.

Has your daughter started swearing yet? I swear A LOT and I'm waiting for the day my son says something like "What the fuck you fucking fucker!" to someone who pushes him on the playground.

sweets said...

LOL that is actually a very male thing to do... asshole yes... but male first... don't worry about it! all humans are allowed one or two asshole moments per year, so don't stress the small stuff dude...

move on :)

Mommy Melee said...

I feel like it's got to be pretty common to asshole-up at least like... once a week. Whether its intentional or not.

Plus in this case you had pretty good reason.

I swear a lot too. Yarrrrr!

Anonymous said...

i found you thru FADKG. Hilarious blog, indeed.

i am a preschool teacher and a good catholic school girl so it is always quite shocking when people hear me throwing out f-bombs like water out on the tennis courts. i have cursed to the high heavens upon a double fault. i am ashamed to admit of my poor sportsmanship by calling an opponent a fucking asshole. i am more sad to admit that said opponent was my dad. oh, well!! coulda been worse! coulda been my old grannie!! i've only called her a stinkin' bee-otch!! once! when i was four. :)

ok. that's all i gots. have a good one.

kittenpie said...

When did you last see his wife? Because I'm just wondering if they really did divorce, or if they worked things out.

But really, not such a big offense. If he really is such an oblivious douche, he may not even have noticed.

Vanilla said...

He's probably writing a post on his blog today about how he initially felt bad for overemphasizing the word you, but no longer feels guilty about it because the guy went on and on about how much more advanced his kid was at signing, and how much of a douchnozzle that guy was. ;)

Mrs. A. said...

What's awful, Shawn, is that you USED your poor, innocent little CHILD to make a point directed at the kind of man who deserves to be called a 'fucktard'. Shouldn't you wait a while before you start using her to in displays of truculence, or whoring her out? I have hope for you though: I differ from the fashionable view in that I think fiction can be morally improving; I expect War and Peace to have the requisite impact.

Amelia Sprout said...

Eh, just don't start picking on the working moms for their kids not being advanced enough, and I won't mind any assholing you feel the need to do.

Jennifer said...

Don't beat yourself up, seriously. Sometimes assholes just make us do crazy things we wouldn't normally do because they just PISS US OFF SO MUCH. You're still a great dad, and a great guy :) The very fact that you're concerned about what you did proves that.

Stacey said...

We all have asshole moments.

And anyway, he started it.

Ali said... are a competiMommy


for a different kind of girl said...

I think you were purely an asshole by osmosis. The other dad brought the asshole to the party. You just stuck a chip in it and found out it sucked, so you moved on down the line until you got to the cake. Cake is never the choice of assholes. Yeah, cake!

Pity there's not a sign for 'fucktard,' though. I'm kind of glad there's not. I'd be using it all the time. My house would be a hell of a lot more quiet, though, because it would really curb the number of times I let a good 'fuck' go during a day.

Badass Geek said...

Thanks for the reminder of how important use of proper emphasis truly is.

It is alright to be an asshole at times. Some people need to be taught a lesson.

AEA said...

Actually, I think you were just an asshole. Moreover, you obviously are working hard to get our sympathies on this one, eliciting the comments you elicited: more than half the blog about you being an asshole is about this guy being an asshole. It is possible (although Mrs. A assures me, not likely) that she's the one who wants a divorce, and she's the real fucktard or whatever, and he's getting the short end of the stick. In any event, your blog inadvertently raised my sympathies for him, like a Hannibal or a Humbert.

mamatulip said...

I like that you dads do what some of the moms do.

And that you are willing to own up to it.

catnip said...

Meh, we've ALL been there - don't beat yourself up about it. We all know you're really a nice guy and it takes a major a$$hole to bring out the a$$hole in you.

Geez, I can't even bring myself to swear on your blog.

Whit said...

I would have asked him to tell the ex hello and maybe showed him my favorite sign. Embrace your inner asshole. Figuratively.

attiton said...

Were you, "running across Washington Square Park in new shoes, blue jeans, and a sweatshirt that read "Massena New York" because his daughter was crying?" Because that would be kinda sad.

the weirdgirl said...

I'm with Whit. If you really wanted to be an asshole you should have said, "Hey, how's the wife? Aw, that's too bad because she is a great, GREAT lady!" (emphasis on the great)

Frankly, I think the dynamic between working dads and SAH dads is worse than with moms. Plus, you have those moms who won't talk to the SAH dads either, even if they see you at the park or class all the time.

BretCB said...

It's disturbing how easy it is to favour one side, often the side we hear/see first, when something like this happens. But fwiw, I don't think a single incident of assholery is anything you should be concerned about.

Christi said...

OK. fucktard made me snort coffee.

Anonymous said...

Being a complete douchebag is contagious and sometimes unsuspecting bystanders become a little douchbaggier hanging around them.

At least you knew you were one. Most assholes can't identify themselves.

Great guest post as FADKOG. Found your blog through her.

MereCat said...

I know way too many assholes. And they are all the same. There are people I care for, and people I'd rather not hang around, and then there are just complete assholes. And I can't figure out how the assholes have become such social misfits to evolve from the category of "those I'd rather not hang around" to the "complete asshole" category.

womaninawindow said...

Did the cycle of signs include the F**! you sign? Would a cleared things up in a jiffy.

Doodaddy said...

There's a special cold spot in my heart for the never-at-home dads. (NAHDs?)

Sus said...

just read you for the first time - v. enjoyable. what took me so long? i was raised by a stay at home dad way ahead of his time. so i have all kinds of respect for you. (emphasis on the YOU)

Anonymous said...

You were only acting in response to him, so you're disqualified from the asshole stakes.

Besides, it's very cool that your child performs on cue in these kinds of situations. You should be proud.

AndreAnna said...

Doesn't responding to an asshole in kind cancel out any intentional assholiness?

My_Dog_Is_Better said...

I like when your blogs actually reflect your stay at home dadness. You really have a unique perspective on parenting that I think should be made into a book.

But you can't write a book because that's my job in this family.

MadWoman said...

Meh....We've all been an asshole at one time or another. Some people just deserve it more. I love that you reacted in much the same way that I likely would have. Makes me feel all warm and asshole-ish inside :)

Good & Crazy said...

Here from the Bean.

And the oh sorry, poopyhead...

I'm going to grin at that all day.

Anonymous said...

First timereading--found you through bejewell--

If that makes you an ass then everyone is one! We all have our moments. Mine are more like dumb blonde moments but still moments.

Aunt Becky said...


You swearing makes me want to not read your blog anymore.

jennifer, playgroups are no place for children said...

I catch myself in the moment of asshole-dem and often can't stop myself. It's maddening, especially since I know how crappy I'm going to feel about it later.

So yeah, I GET this.

But really? He deserved it.

Backpacking Dad said...

swirl girl: the teflon cost an extra $150. I just used carnauba wax.

scifi dad: :} Sorry to see you go.

sandie law: I knew it was true!

mary beth: and also this month's swear words

danielle: I'm turning into "Mr. Passive Aggressive".

jenni: her first swear phrase will be "fucker fucker fuck fuck", because that's her mom's favourite phrase.

sweets: well, at least it was a male thing :}

mommy melee: is "yarrrr" a swear word? Like "yarrrr off you yarrrring yarrr-tard"?

katie: did we say "bee-otch" when you were four? Are you nine? :}

kittenpie: way to get all conscientious on me. I don't know if they've reconciled. Maybe. As I stated, most of this stuff was in my own head.

vanilla: seriously, right? :}

mrs a: if fiction is morally improving, and you and aea have read a lot more fiction than I have, why are you both such total derelicts?

amelia sprout: I always lay off the mommy wars. I don't want to be killed in my sleep.

jennifer: aw, thanks.

stacey: that's right!

ali: totally.

FADKOG: I most certainly did not stick a chip in any asshole. Gah!

badass geek: yeah. emphasis is important.

aea: I'm totally working hard at getting your sympathies. And it's working. So fuck off and go lose some more hair.

mamatulip: heh. Yeah, insecurity knows no gender.

catnip: Oh, give it a try. Say fuck and just see how it feels.

whit: that's what makes you more of a man than I am.

attiton: I'm a sucker like that :}

the weirdgirl: I don't need that reputation around here :}

bretcb: totally agree with you. We side up first and worry about who's right later. It's not fair.

christi: feel free to teach it to your kids

meg: dammit. "Contagious Douchebag" is my new band.

merecat: uh. So. You, um, don't want to be my friend anymore? That's okay, I understand. ;}

womaninawindow: "Erin, what's the sign for "fuck you douchebag"? Good job."

doodaddy: NAHDs is perfect.

sus: your dad was a brave man.

jerseygirl89: I can also get her to moo like a cow :}

andreanna: I hope so.

my_dog_is_better: so get on it already.

madwoman: great minds....cuss alike....

good & crazy: :}

kd@abitsquirrelly: now you've got me wondering what a stereotypical blonde would have done in that situation.

aunt becky: you scared me. I had to go reread some of your posts to see if I had remembered correctly that you swear all the fucking time :} Ya got me.

Danielle said...

Nice job on the respond to all!

Impressive. I'm envious.

If we keep leaving comments, will you keep responding....


[echos] testing. testing.

Backpacking Dad said...

jennifer,playgroupsarenoplaceforchildren: I'm completely second-guessing myself now, so it's nice to know someone else can't help herself :}

danielle: yes :} It's naptime and the laptop is open.

Anonymous said...

I was expecting something waaaay worse than you showing off her signs..don't feel too badly.

heather said...

Regardless of the asshole Dad, (and I would be tempted to do exactly the same thing in your situation), I love you even more now that you have admitted what surely we all feel from time to time -- that OUR KID IS SIMPLY THE BEST, no matter how self-centered that sounds, no matter how shallow that makes us seem -- I guess nature made us that way; preferring our kid to all others.

Backpacking Dad said...

'that girl': well, I'm relieved that I'm so restrained :}

heather: ah, professions of love will go far, until my wife reads them and tells me I'm not allowed to blog anymore.

VDog said...

This post rawks.

I do this sometimes too. But usually don't realize it until later. *Sigh*

If you ever come to Little Farm or the Steam Train, hit me up!

Laura said...

does your kid know the sign for asshole?

Laura said...

oh, and should you ever catch up with this post (since I am back reading your posts) I am glad to have found you and your backpack...very, very enjoyable to see life through the eyes of a stay at home dad.

Elisa said...

Hey, it happens to the best of us. Don't worry about it - I'm sure the guy wasn't emotionally scarred in the least, he does sound like a fucktard.