Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)

You guys, I have to admit that I've been hiding something from you.  But only because I was ordered to.  And then I thought the thing I was hiding wasn't really going to happen, and I kind of halfway forgot about it.

Remember when I wrote about the epic Return from BlogHer Odyssey?  The one where I got caught up in the world of a father dealing with his son's acute psychological breakdown, just because of a storm front moving through the mid-Atlantic?

Let me take you back to a few days before that.

Or wait.  Maybe I should go back a couple weeks before that day first.

My friend Charlie, who's a show biz dude, asked me if I had any interest in going on the Ricki Lake Show and representing stay-at-home dads.  Like absolutely everyone who ever hears the words "Ricki Lake Show," I said, incredulously, "She still has a show?"

Turns out she has a show again.  It hadn't been on the air yet at that point, but was scheduled to start in September.

Being the total famewhore that you know and love, I immediately said yes.

I talked to producers, blah blah blah, and the next thing I knew, I was putting together a little movie about "A Day in the Life of a SAHD," with the understanding that if they liked it, they might edit it and use it on the show.  I mentioned part of the process of making that video in this post, which of course was fraught with feelings of guilt and embarrassment at my shameless and exploitative self-promotion and my crappy parenting.

They liked the video I made, certainly because of its adorable little starlets.  But instead of using my home video on the show, they asked if they could send a camera crew to my house to spend the day with me.  That sounded incredibly invasive, disruptive, and possibly traumatic for my kids.

"Sure!"  I said, without hesitation.

So, on the morning before the day I had to leave for BlogHer in New York City, I awoke to a camera crew setting up their equipment outside my house.  Before making coffee, I had to get wired with a microphone.  I had not slept more than a few minutes the night before.  I didn't feel particularly nervous, in terms of stage-fright; and I didn't feel giddy with excitement either.  I think I was just tweaking because of all the logistics on my mind.  I had to get us through our regular daytime activities while also accommodating the needs of a film crew. 

Oh yeah, and I also had invited some guys from my SAHD group over to the house with their kids for a cookout/playdate.  I was mostly worried about dog shit in the yard, cooking with the kids and the cameras all over me, Stella freaking out with all the people around, the kids melting down, the fact that it was almost 100 degrees outside.  I didn't really care all that much about how the movie turned out.  I just didn't want to have a shitty day.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Please Send My Schnitzel to the Great Dad Cook-Off!

Somebody Else's Schnitzel

Dearest reader: I hardly ever ask you for anything, do I?  I mean besides love and validation and maybe some enabling?  There was Movember, of course (thanks, by the way, to those of you who donated); but that was like two weeks ago, and, besides, what I'm asking for today doesn't cost you a plug nickel.  Just a couple keystrokes.

Here's the deal.  I'll be attending the Dad 2.0 Summit again this year, and if you haven't heard about this great event, you should really check it out.  In fact, I'll be speaking there, with my friends Faiqa and Jason, about some really complicated, thinky, cultural stuff that's way over my head but that I hope to figure out by the time the conference rolls around.  

One of the cool events on the conference agenda is the "Great Dad Cook-Off," in which four dads will have a live culinary throwdown, a la Iron Chef, for a chance to win a grand prize that has to do with cash, travel, and football.  I submitted a recipe (Schnitzel-based, of course); and after it was vetted by a crack team of ConAgra food scientists, I advanced into the semi-finals.  I don't harbor any great hope of winning the grand prize, but I sure would love to be a finalist because, a) it would be fun and terrifying to be in a live cook-off and, b) ConAgra picks up the tab for the finalists' airfare, hotel, and conference fees.  It would make me feel a lot better about leaving my family to fend for themselves while I jetted off to Huston if I weren't paying for my little getaway out of the General Fund.* 

This is where you come in.  

At this point, there are eight guys in the running, and the next step is to narrow the field down to four, through natural selection.  And by natural selection, I mean Facebook voting.  WAIT!  DON'T LEAVE YET! (Unless you are leaving to go vote, which you would do by clicking this link.)

Let me tell you a story about a little boy.  A frightened little boy with a big dream.


Moscow, January 1979.  The coldest winter of the Cold War.  An American family huddled in the living room of their ramshackle, bug (of both the electronic and cockroachian variety)-infested diplomatic apartment.  Outside, the wind whistled dark threats and the snow flew parallel to the black-ice streets.  Thermostats dropped to -50 degrees Farenheit.  The radiators hadn't worked for days, and the building hadn't had hot water for a week.  The mother had been boiling great basins of water on the stove and filling the tub so the children could take turns bathing.  The father was across town at the embassy, chipping away at the frozen foundations of the Evil Empire.

The young son brushed aside his blankets, shed his rabbit-fur coat, and arose from his torpor as if something momentous had occurred to him.  He was eleven and slight.  He was often mistaken for a girl, with his permed hair tumbling past his collarbone.

"What are you looking at, sweetheart?" his mom asked.

"What?  Oh.  This?"  He nodded toward the mint-green paper in his hand.  "It's that cook-off thing.  At Alfredo's.  I think..."  He didn't look away from the paper.  "I think I can win it."

During the warmest months in Moscow, a person would have been lucky enough to find a few pounds of anemic tomatoes being hawked out of the suitcase of a babushka from Tblisi in the open-air produce market.  If that person were a Westerner, they might have had a friend who would bring them back a few heads of iceberg lettuce and a dozen bananas upon returning from a diplomatic errand in Helsinki.

But you could get cabbage any time of year.  And in the winter, it was only cabbage you could get, unless you were an ambassador or a politburo member. 


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