A rush of that winter fresh 2019 air fills my lungs as I bid the yesteryear a farewell…almost. I’ve got one final story that sits on the razor’s edge of 2018 to kick off January’s article. So, let’s put our stupid New Year’s Eve paper top hats and noisemakers away and get to it.
It’s become more and more difficult to schedule time with my teenage daughter. Nowadays, Abby’s busy with school, sports or her boyfriend (not necessarily in that order, though I wish it was). But that’s life. And while it’s a bit tricky to find time with her, I love that she’s becoming her own person as each day passes.
I bought tickets to see Aquaman. Abby and I were set for Friday, December 28th at 11:15 am. She confirmed that she would be available and wanted to go see it. Katie bowed out as it didn’t interest her, so it was going to be another memorable chapter in the already bible-thick father/daughter book. I was up, dressed and ready by 10 am. I was, as I always am, excited to catch a movie with the kiddo.
On the drive to pick her up, I decided to give her a call to let her know I was en route. The phone went directly to voicemail. This is a common, yet hair-ripping-scream in frustration-worthy, thing she does. I usually have to make a second (sometimes third) call until she picks up. This time, she didn’t pick up at all. I sent Abby a text kindly instructing her to pick up her phone…more or less…not really. I’m pretty sure I told her I’d kill her if she didn’t pick up.
Upset that I would most likely have to cancel the show time, I decided I would grab some breakfast at Wawa while I waited for her to reply. I figured killing was going to be difficult enough, no need to be hungry while I do it. I reached out to Katie and see if she had heard from Abby. While on the phone with Katie, I helped myself to a bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwich and 2 hash browns. Never had breakfast at Wawa? You’re doing yourself a disservice. Katie asked what I was going to do next. I told her I was certain we weren’t going to make the movie and that I was grabbing a breakfast sandwich while I waited for Abby to call me back. Katie asked if I was going to get Abby anything. My reply was simply, “Little girls who don’t answer their phone do not get breakfast.”
My phone voice tends to ignore what society would consider appropriate and carries well beyond the normal range. So, when I said that, it was apparently loud enough for ears within 10 feet to hear it. Katie said that my approach was a little rough, but the reaction from shoppers in Wawa was laughter. But it was the Wawa clerk who quoted me as I checked out, “Little girls who don’t answer their phone do not get breakfast. That’s a solid philosophy, man!” It brought a smile to my face. I paid the man and told him to have a good day. Right as I stepped out, Abby texted me. She said she was awake and ready to get picked up to see the movie. I explained that the ship had sailed. I told her I’d still pick her up, but since she didn’t answer the phone, we’d have to catch a show time later that week or next.
When I picked Abby up, she apologized for sending me to voicemail and said it wouldn’t happen again. I knew it inevitably would happen again, but nodded regardless. Some would probably chime in here and call me a cynic, but I’m a realist when it comes to parenting. She told me she hadn’t eaten and wanted a breakfast sandwich. I’m not sure what the alchemy is that can make me both rough and unwavering with her one minute and then an old softie the next, but I made a straight shot to the nearest place to get breakfast.
We returned to Wawa, where she grabbed a couple of donuts, an iced tea and some fried mozzarella cheese sticks…a breakfast for champions. As we stood in a line at the checkout, I noticed that the clerk who had checked me out before was still working…and we were in his line! I thought maybe he wouldn’t recognize me. Granted, it had only been about 30 minutes since I last saw him, but it’s a Wawa off a major highway with lots of foot traffic and LOTS of faces. No way would he remember me.
We approached the checkout. The clerk looked me, then he looked at Abby. The irony was not lost on that clerk. He immediately recognized me. Then he looked back at me and said, “I guess little girls who don’t answer their phones DO get breakfast?” I looked befuddled. I was conflicted between feeling upset by his remark, but also wanting to laugh, as I saw the humor in it. I went for the old rolling of the eyes and a shrug of the shoulders as if to say, “What are ya going to do?”
Merriam-Webster defines embarrassment as “the emotional state of being made self-consciously uncomfortable.” I’d say that’s a pretty spot-on analysis of what occurred in line at that Wawa on Friday, December 28th at 11:00 am. Now don’t get me wrong, the child is not the source of this embarrassing moment – it was me. I created this with my big mouth and inability to use my inside voice. Had I just spoken a little softer, or not at all, the clerk of Wawa wouldn’t have remembered me and my flawed, high decibel “wisdom.”
Having a kid, at times THIS kid, can be trying. I could’ve put a friend, any friend, in Abby’s position and see myself at the 11:30 am show time of Aquaman alone and not feeling remotely bothered by it. In fact, I would’ve told that friend what a great time I had. But when you’re a parent, the rules are different…except, perhaps in my father’s parenting book. I’m certain my father wouldn’t have given me a second thought and gone to see the movie after he called and it went to voicemail ONCE.
We ended up seeing it later that night, at almost twice the cost and surrounded with loudmouthed buffoons that recited every line like some daft parrot. On top of everything, Aquaman was garbage!