Literary Gold from 2010
"Dad, will you tuck me in?" She asked as she climbed up into her bed. It was a captain's bed and so was raised up a little higher than a typical bed. Because by now I was usually exhausted after a long day of work, I really hated this part of each day. Ideally my kids, Ellie and Nik, would just wander into their beds by themselves without any assistance from me, but I wanted to be perceived as a "good father" by whatever unseen force was out there that keeps me filled with fatherly guilt.
So I said, "Of course, honey." And made a big show of tucking the blankets tightly underneath her as she giggled happily, until when I was done, she resembled a cocoon, or a cigar...
"Dad, and will you tell me a story?" and she gave me the eyes that I'm sure are so hard for fathers anywhere in the world to resist.
"OK," I said. "but after that I am outta here or else I will have to smash you to smithereens." I don't know where I got this bad habit, but ever since my kids were young, I threaten them with the most horrible statements, so much so that both kids are now inured to it as far as I can tell. "I swear to god if you don't eat your carrots I will stab you..." It sounds worse than it is, I probably thought it was funny at one point...
"OK, give me a minute to think here." I said "OK, there was once this man. He was 43-years old and his name was dad..." I started all of my stories this way because it gave me a few extra seconds to rack my brains for a topic. We all have rituals we go through and Ellie was used to this one. She waited patiently for me to get this preface material out of the way. She waited for me to get rolling...
"And you'll never guess how many children, this dad had - he had two of them...and their names were Kelly and Rick!" This was an old joke, picking children's names that perfectly rhymed with their names.
"Anyway, the dad was very sad because his children were very bad..."
"Dad!" she said, looking at me with more disgust than a 9-year-old should be able to muster, "tell a REAL story."
"Fine. Fine. This dad of course drove to work each day on the curvy road that ran along side of the Otonabee river. Early one morning, there had been a cold snap the night before that hadn't quite thawed yet in the early morning sun, and the road was icy, especially in the corners. The dad, who had driven back and forth on this road literally hundreds of times, was as usual driving pretty fast (he was the only person on this road at that time of day) cutting across into the oncoming lane in the corners to maximize cornering efficiency, and like always, he had his music turned up - the dad had always thought that it was a lovely way to the start the day...when all of a sudden he hit some black ice at the worst possible moment, right where he had to make a hard right in order to avoid the deep water and stay on the road. The tires slipped totally. The dad attempted to steer ineffectually, and the car fairly shot out over the pathetic excuse for a safety embankment before becoming airborne for a moment and then plunging into the freezing river. Um, did I mention it was winter?"
"Dad, what's black ice?"
"It's just really slippery ice that you can't see until you are already slipping on it... so as I said, the car plunges into the freezing, frigid, icy water, but the man doesn’t! He flies right out the side window (which he had open to better enjoy the fresh and cold winter air...I forgot to say the window was open..." I was warming to the story now and actually knew what was going to happen so I could have fun embellishing.
"Anyway, instead of flying into the water, the dad flies up! Then he turns in a circle, and does a couple of loops, flies left and right, and barely has time to realize that instead of drowning he is actually flying, before he loses control and ends up flying straight down into the water, just as surely as if he really meant to go in there!"
"The dad tenses as he hits the water. He once did a polar bear dive and he knew that the water would take his breath away (and very likely even stop his heart completely) but this time the water did not feel cold at all. I mean, the water was still very cold, it was just that the dad couldn’t feel it. The next thing he knew, he realized that he could still breathe! He could breathe underwater!
So with all that realized, the dad swam around underwater breathing in the fresh cold water instead of air, and after a minute he flew back up out of the water and back on the shore. He didn’t know yet what to do with the car, but he was soaking wet and felt that he should do something with his clothes so he carefully took them off until be was completely bare naked and began to wring them out. Of course, no sooner was he completely naked than a priest and a bunch of nuns came right around the corner!" Ellie gave no indication that it was at all unusual that a gaggle of nuns would be walking along the river early on a cold December morning. "The nuns walked right past the dad and didn't even see him! Know why?"
Ellie had that disgusted look again. "He was invisible. Dad, these are the same super powers we were talking about at Costco two days ago." Because two days ago, I was eating a quality balanced dinner of hot dogs and poutine with the kids (hot dog and a drink for only a buck and a half?! That's value!) and the fact that Nik is a six-year-old boy meant that we had to spend a goodly amount of time fantasizing about which superpowers we would have if we could only have one.
"Yes, he was invisible! So of course, you know what he did next.”
Ellie rolled her eyes as only young girls can do and said..."Next, he went to all of the major banks and stole millions of dollars, just like you said you'd do if you could be invisible...Those superpowers sound exactly like the superpowers we talked about the other day. And you can only have one!
It's nice that my kids don't balk when I tell them that I am going to steal millions of dollars in cash, but freak out when I exceed my arbitrarily allotted number of superpowers.