Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Kids Are Alright

February 1st, 2009
Sunday Morning, 11:34 AM

I have not written about my children on IMNALY. I have mentioned them, but I have yet to dedicate a post to them. I guess the reason is because I want to protect them. It could be my fatherly parental instincts taking over telling me to leave them out of this nebulous Internet; let them write about themselves years from now. Maybe this blog and its author have been too self-indulgent to find room for them. Maybe, but I doubt that. I think I was merely waiting for the right time. Well, this week my children made me smile. This week my children made me act like a child again for about an hour. This week, as they are every week, to paraphrase Pete Townsend, the kids were alright.

I have two lovable, vibrant, young daughters. I know what you are saying, I hate it too when writers’ gloat about their children or pets, but it is the truth. How do I know this is true? Well, that is what other people tell me. So if we take into account that 60% of people lie in everyday conversation (based on a study done by UMass) then only one of my daughters is vibrant and lovable. You will just have to take me word on the other one, she is cool too. This leads us to this week’s story.

My job requires that I travel. I find myself "on the road" about two days out of the week. Most, if not all of this travel, is done in the continental United States. I don't mind traveling at all. I welcome traveling and all of its potential experiences. I welcome the lessons that new cities or towns have to offer. As Mark Twain so eloquently put it 147 years ago, "...nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people." I go in with that type of attitude each and every time I touch down in a new destination.

See, I have a solid routine down when I travel, which is very important for me, and I enjoy the solitude that travel provides. I enjoy spending three or fours hours up in the air with a good book, great tunes, all the while collecting my thoughts. This week, unbeknownst to me, I had less solitude then I first thought. This week, thanks to Lovable and Vibrant, I had a stowaway with me on my trip to our nation's capital.

Here in the states (shout out to my international readers) there currently is an advertisement running for a major Telecom that features a "traveling father", a stuffed animal and a vibrant, lovable daughter. The gist of the ad is the "traveling father" finds the stuffed animal in his briefcase, planted by the daughter and takes pictures on his phone with the stuffed animal all throughout his travels. It's an effective advertisement. How do I know this? I actually remember which Fortune 500 company the advertisement is for. That only happens about 15% of the time for me. I would be a Market Researchers worst nightmare. I intentionally block that type of stuff out forcing them to work harder. Make me the protagonist in your story/ad and I will remember. Case in point.

My daughters love this advertisement for some reason
. Vibrant, my youngest, really loves this advertisement. How do I know this? Because she laughs at this ad from the second it starts to the last frame. See, Vibrant has this great laugh. It's one of those laughs that goes all the way down to the cockles of her heart, bounces back, and fills the room. Her laugh makes Lovable and me laugh every time. Her laugh is what some would describe as infectious.

I am not 100% certain on this, but my educated guess is that Vibrant told Lovable this was a great idea and Lovable said we have to do this to Dad. Which in turn they did this past week on my trip to Washington DC. I knew something was up by the laughter that accompanied me on my way out the door the night I left. They were just a little extra excited by my departure. "Have fun" they said giggling, as I closed the door of my car. When I sneaked a peak into my bag I saw a stuffed, sky blue Hippo hidden with my luggage. Let the games begin I thought.

The next day I had a meeting in Arlington, VA which is right across the river from Washington DC. I recruited one of my colleagues who has become my work travel buddy for the better part of the past 5 months. My colleague is this wonderful Southern Gentleman who could be the friendliest person I have ever met. At first I thought it was an act, but after spending the better parts with him all of these months I now know that is not the case. He is genuinely this pleasant. In our meetings together we balance each other out nicely. My North East sensibility tends to make me very direct, small talk has its time and place, but not when it’s getting in the way of my agenda. My colleague has taught me, especially when having meetings south of the Mason-Dixon Line, that small talk is a welcomed necessity and a valuable tool. I knew, just by my colleague’s nature, that he would be the perfect wingman for my picture project with the stuffed Hippo in DC.

After a successful meeting at a rival Telecom to the one in the Advertisement that I mentioned, my colleague and I ventured over the Potomac River and headed to the majestic monuments of our nation's capital. Washington DC is a beautiful American city. From its elegant landscape to its well designed layout to its alluring attractions, DC has much to offer. Couple those qualities with the current pomp and circumstance paid to our newly elected leader during his recent inauguration, and DC had a different aura for me that day. DC felt more alive to me then it has in years. Actually, it felt like people were working again in those Halls of Justice and Monuments of Democracy. As the sunset, my colleague and I braved the sub-freezing temperatures, armed with a camera phone, a stuffed animal and a mission to make sure Vibrant and Lovable were amused.

As you can see from the photos in this blog, Hippie, as my colleague dubbed him, had an unparalleled first time in DC. (And we had a pretty good time too.) We saw it all in perfect Technicolor lighting, the White House, the Capitol Building, The Mall, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, with Hippie in hand, snapping away pictures. Was it foolish? Of course it was. Was it fun? Of course it was. Was it worth it? You better believe it was.

My colleague and I wrapped up our DC tour with a stop at the Irish Times, a great little dive bar that is two blocks from the Capitol. I have spent a handful of nights at that bar when my sister went to College in DC and always enjoyed myself. On one memorable night during my sister's graduation week, my Uncle Bill and I closed the bar and did the "one more round on us" thing for all the people in the bar. Man I miss that guy. I miss creating those type of memories with him.

At the Times we emailed our first DC photos of Hippie to my girls. Was it worth it? Well, you should have heard their response when I called them to get their reaction. All it took was one sound of Vibrant's laugh and Lovable telling me that how funny it was and I knew we did them proud. That day I smiled. That day in DC I created one of those memories that I used to create with Bill. That day I smiled and created a memory and it was one of those moments that will stay in my soul for years to come.

Over a Guinness, in the Times, with my Colleague and Hippie and the memories of my past and the thoughts of my future, I realized that I had a great day and that I was lucky to have great daughters. Thanks Girls, you kids are alright. I love you.


  1. Great Post. I can confirm that the daughters are in fact vibrant and lovable.

    But, take that with a grain of salt, I lie about 70% of the time.

  2. This part was so well written & described.. really!

    "See, Vibrant has this great laugh. It's one of those laughs that goes all the way down to the cockles of her heart, bounces back, and fills the room. Her laugh makes Lovable and me laugh every time. Her laugh is what some would describe as infectious"

  3. Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed this article thouroughly! Very well written...I could picture everything you were saying!! And, Lovable and Vibrant are most definitely, Lovable and Vibrant!!! Thanks for the good reading..

  4. I quite enjoyed seeing Hippie with that pint of Guiness, definitely a stuffed Irish animal.

    Great memory for you and the gals...this is one of those "moments" that Uncle Billy would have loved.