Thank goodness that I'm smart enough to listen to my wife

Photos like these remind me of how stupid I can be.

About eight years ago, Elysha began talking about wanting a second child. While I was agreeable to the prospect of one more kid, I was also perfectly happy with just Clara. She was a happy and healthy little girl who filled my heart with joy.

Did we really need another?

What a stupid question.

I can’t imagine the world without Charlie today. He is such an interesting and lovable human being, but beyond my own love for my son, I can’t imagine my kids without the blessing of each other.

Not only does our boy bring so much happiness to our lives, but Clara and Charlie love each other so much, and I simply can’t imagine them existing without each other.

Listening to my kids talk and play and laugh together is by far my favorite thing in this world.

Thank goodness for Elysha’s infinite wisdom.

The life cycle of a human being through the eyes of a six year-old boy

Behold!

Charlie’s (age 6) interpretation of the life cycle of a human being from the womb to the grave.

The beginning stages and the ending stages are especially interesting.

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A solution to arguing on Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is upon us. A day of food, family, and friends. A day of giving thanks for all our good fortune.  

And with it, the prospect of strife at the dinner table.

Democrats vs. Republicans
Rex Sox fans vs. Yankees fans 
Carnivores vs. vegans
Beatles vs. Stones
Cat people vs. dog people
Mouth breathers vs. nose breathers

These feuds can sometimes ruin an otherwise festive holiday. I've witnessed a few of these turkey day battles in my time, and I’ve participated in a few as well. 

In fact, I’ve angered the fathers of girlfriends on Thanksgiving to the point shouting at least three times in my life.

I once encouraged folks around the table to pass on food they don’t like while the father - a self-proclaimed chef - watched in horror at the rebellion that I’d stirred.

Eventually he and I had words.

I once repeatedly left the room every time the father of a girlfriend made a racially insensitive remark. That father eventually realized what I was doing and had words with me.

I was also once, (unbeknownst to me) fed my pet rabbit on Thanksgiving, which eventually caused a bit of a row.

I’ve also argued economics during the height of the Great Recession with family members who didn’t know a credit default swap from a toxic asset, debated the future of the NFL with my father-in-law, and argued the stupidity of trickle-down economics with my uncle when I was about fourteen years-old.

I drew a political cartoon that year to make my point, and decades later, my aunt sent me that cartoon. She had saved it for me.

None of these incidents made for a good Thanksgiving. I’m a guy who loves to argue, but not on Thanksgiving. Today is the last day that anyone should be verbally sparring, and yet we do.

When you see an argument erupting this year or you feel like the family is on the verge of an argument, here is my suggestion:

Tell a story.

Rather than jumping into the fray with disagreement and debate, try to tell a story instead. Return civility and joy to the table by capturing the imagination of your friends and family with an entertaining return to the past. Rise above the ruckus with something like:

"Guess what happened to me last week!"

"I attended quite the birthday party a few months ago!"

"Do you remember the Christmas when the raccoon broke into the house and tore open a bunch of the Christmas presents?"

That last one really happened. I had a pet raccoon as a kid. He managed to sneak into the house on Christmas Eve.

I should tell that story someday. 

Maybe I'll tell it at the Thanksgiving Day table this year.

Anything is better than a fight.

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Just another Saturday night

It’s Saturday night in our house. An evening to relax. Enjoy ourselves. Have some fun.

What did our 9 year-old daughter, Clara, choose to do with her free time?

She read books on ancient Greece and ancient Rome, and then for funsies decided to create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two cultures.

She’s cool that way. A real party animal.

My son, the conceptual percussionist

Our son, Charlie, age six, designed a drum kit out of several of his toys.

Then he conceptualized a song called "Exploring Your Life" that... well, he can explain better than I ever could.

Whenever my kids do something like this, I cannot help but think that when I was their age, I was a small, useless parasite incapable of little more than eating, watching television, and playing in the dirt.

News of a pending divorce

When I asked how her day went, my 10 year-old daughter, Clara, said she had a little trouble at recess.

“Yeah,” I said. “What happened?”

“Well,” she began. “We were playing house, and I’m the mother, and this boy is the father, and we have two kids. Sounds good. Right? Except I’ve decided that it’s not going to work, so I told him today that I wanted a divorce.”

I was driving when she said this to me, so I pulled the car over to capture her language as precisely as possible.

“So now what?” I asked.

“Tomorrow I need to tell the kids, and that won’t be easy. Then I’ll have to tell them that they need to take on more responsibilities because it’s just going to be the three of us.”

“Will that be hard?” I asked.

“Very.”

A couple hours later, Elysha asked Clara how the boy took the news of the divorce, and Clara reported that he was fine.

“Anything else?” I asked, feverishly typing into Evernote as I spoke.

“Nope,” she said. “But can we go now? I want to see the kitties.”

I don’t remember every recess I enjoyed when I was a child, but I am fairly certain that none of them were anything like the recesses that my daughter enjoys these days.

At least I think she enjoys them. They sounds incredibly stressful to me.

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Smart cat. Terrible skill.

I know what you’re thinking. There’s no cuter cat in the world. Right?

I thought that, too, until I came downstairs this morning and found the kitchen sink running.

“Damn kids,” I thought.

I turned off the water and went to the table to begin my work. A few minutes later, I heard the water come on.

My first thought: “A ghost?”

Except I don’t believe in ghosts. And it wasn’t a ghost.

It was this:

Yes. My water-obsessed cat has learned how to turn on the kitchen sink.

I’m doomed.

Charlie lost his first tooth. Also, a lot more happened.

Big day for my little boy.

After countless days of wiggling and pulling, Charlie finally lost his first tooth. He was brushing his teeth when, according to him, he felt something. “I stopped brushing, reached into my mouth, and it was my tooth!”

Damn was he excited. I was in the shower at the time, so he came running, crashed into the glass shower door, and said, “Dad! It happened!”

It’s a moment I will never forget.

Earlier that night, he stepped into his bedroom after our cleaning lady had tidied up and said, “Dad, my room looks spectacular.”

Even earlier that night, he stood before a 12-foot, inflatable, animatronic pumpkin headed monster on the front lawn of his Hebrew School and could not stop laughing, gasping, pointing, and uttering, “Oh my God.”

When saying goodbye to his friend, Helen, after an afternoon playdate, he hugged her and she hugged him, so instantly and easily and sweetly, that it made my heart melt.

While we were lying in his bed, lights out and blue stars projected on the ceiling, listening to Neko Case’s “I Wish I Were the Moon,” he whispered in response to a line in the song, “I hope she’s not so tired anymore.”

Lastly, as he placed his tooth under his pillow, he said to me, “I know you have to work at the hospital tomorrow, but don’t leave until you see what the tooth fairy gave me. I want you to know, too.”

So I sit here at the table, thinking about all that made yesterday so beautiful, recording these moments both here and in my Homework for Life so they will remain with me forever, waiting for that little boy to come racing down the stairs with a golden dollar and a note from Tooth Fairy congratulating him on his first lost tooth.

I hold onto these moments more than anything else in the world, because they are more valuable than anything else in the world. They are my treasure.

First words this morning

My nine year-old daughter, Clara, came downstairs this morning, and before saying another word, asked, “Dad, what started the French and Indian War?”

Why my daughter would start her day with this question is beyond me.

“Did you know,” I said, “that the French and Indian War wasn’t actually between …”

“I know, I know,” Clara said. “The French and Indians were fighting the British. I know that. I want to know what started the war.”

Just like that, she had stripped me of my best French and Indian War fact. But I was not to be deterred.

“Did you know that the war was also called..”

“Yes, the Seven Years War,” she said. “I know that, too.” Now she sounded annoyed. “I want to know what started the war.”

I told Clara that I thought the war began over the fight for land. “I think the French and the British were fighting over land in the west and control the fur trade in those areas.”

“You think?” she said. “Let’s look it up.”

So at 6:10 AM, with many other things to do, Clara and I did a deep dive on the French and Indian War. We discovered that I was correct. Though there are always many reasons for war, the control of disputed land in North America was the primary cause.

We also learned that 22 year-old George Washington led the first attack against the French at the Battle of Jumonville Glen.

We learned that the war began in North America in 1754 but expanded to Europe in 1756.

We learned that Britain gained control of parts of Canada, which was populated with 80,000 French residents, and that those people were deported following the war to make the land available to immigrants from Europe and migrants from the colonies to the south. 

“What a bummer for them,” Clara said.

Then I finally taught Clara something that she didn’t know. I explained that the French and Indian War cost Great Britain a lot of money, and to pay off their debt, the Crown tried to impose new taxes on its colonies. These attempts were met with resistance, until troops were called in to enforce the Crown's authority. These acts ultimately led to the start of the American Revolutionary War.

Great Britain won the French and Indian War, but it ultimately led to the loss of British colonies in North America and the birth of the United Stares.

“Cool,” Clara said and then skipped away. It was 6:35 AM, and she had to go learn about the composition of Neptune on Ready Jet Go.

Hydrogen, helium, and methane, if you were wondering.

My children show me a world I often fail to see

One of my favorite thing about kids - mine as well as other people’s children - is how often I see the world in a new way through their innocent, creative, untainted eyes.

Like this. Who know raspberries could be so versatile? So decorative?

I’ve always thought of raspberries as a nonsense fruit. They last about 19 minutes before going squishy and gross. They have a ridiculous P in the spelling of their name. And they are the only fruit that must sit atop a diaper in their plastic container.

Following my children’s lead, I placed raspberries on my fingers (slightly harder given the size of my fingers) and never enjoyed eating raspberries so much.

Find a kid. See the world differently. Embrace it. Indulge.

Feline interference

I have the same exact struggle with my cat with one exception:

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I’m not just doing surgery when Plto sits across my forearms.

I’m writing.

A far more serious piece of business.

Ocelots have a lot of sex. My daughter told me.

My daughter, Clara just told me that an ocelot mates up to 70 times each day.

My first thought: Sounds like a hell of a lot of fun to be an ocelot.

My second thought: Did my nine year-old daughter just tell me that the ocelot has sex up to 70 times a day?

My third thought: Does Clara even understand what mating (or sex) means?

My last thought: I really, really hope she doesn’t ask me to explain mating at 6:12 AM.

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Little things made big

It's been a big summer for my son, Charlie. Lots of new learning and remarkable accomplishments. In addition to reading books for the first time and making enormous progress with his swimming and biking, he had a few interesting milestones as well. 

First, he learned to cross his eyes. 

Next, and perhaps even more impressive, he learned to skip stones on the water. 

But my favorite accomplishment of the summer, and perhaps his favorite, was his recent decision to count to 1,000. He began the journey in the car on the way home from an ice cream adventure, thinking he might count to 366.

"I'm counting to a leap year," he said. But as he closed in on his goal, he set a new one.

"I changed my mind. I'm counting to 1,000!"

Eventually he had to stop to go to sleep, so he noted where he left off on a sheet of paper and then resumed the counting the next morning. 

Yes, it was a little annoying to listen to him constantly count, but the results - the happiness, the pride, the sense of accomplishment - were well worth it. 

Quite the summer for our little guy. 

Clara's first Patriots game. NOT WHAT I EXPECTED AT ALL.

I took Clara on a rite of passage last night:

Her first New England Patriots game.

I've been attending Patriots games regularly for almost 20 years, and I've been a season ticket holder for almost as long. I've spent some of my favorite, most memorable days at Gillette Stadium, tailgating with friends, cheering in the stands, hugging strangers following touchdowns, and celebrating victories. 

It was odd that my daughter had never seen this place where I have spent so much time. I was so happy to finally introduce her to this place that I love so much. 

It was a preseason game, which was ideal for a nine year-old girl. Warm night. Low stakes. Lots of empty seats. An absence of opposing fans. Fewer drunken brawls. As we pulled up Route 1 in Foxboro and saw the stadium for the first time, Clara was impressed. 

"I know it doesn't look so big from so far away," I said. "But it's pretty big."

"No, Daddy. It's huge."

We talked as we made the 15 minute walk to the stadium. Clara asked questions. I told stories about this spot and that spot along the way. Stories of snowstorms and lobster carcasses and a burning Christmas tree. She waved at the police horses and said hello to random children.

I managed to sneak her through security with the backpack that she had strapped to her back, and I'm still not sure how. Security officers are fanatical about there being no bags brought into the stadium unless they are clear and plastic.

Somehow we skirted by.

Then we began the climb up the ramps to the 300 level and our seats. When he hit the fourth of 10 ramps and Clara said, "I hope you're seats aren't too high, Daddy,"

I knew I might be in trouble. 

My seats are four rows from the very top of the stadium. The climb up those steps to our seats would be steep and long. But it was a preseason game. Lots of empty seats along the way. We could probably find seats in the first or second row.

Clara was nervous just being in the concourse of the upper level. Just her awareness of how high we were was increasing her anxiety considerably. We ate some food, walked around the stadium a bit, and then it was time to see the field for the first time from actual seats. 

"Let's go see the Patriots," I said. 

"Okay," she said. 

My hopes soared. No protest. She was going to be brave.

As soon as we stepped out of the concourse and up a small flight of stairs, Clara fell apart. I managed to grab two seats in the second row, just six feet from the landing, but Clara clung to the handrail like she was on the deck of a ship, caught in a storm. The size and height and scope of the stadium terrified her. I managed to get her into a seat, thinking she might calm down once she was anchored to a spot, but no good. She was crying and begging to leave. 

I coaxed. I cajoled. I pointed out some features of the stadium. The championship banners. The big screens. The football being played below. 

No good. We had just driven almost three hours to a football game, and I was in danger of seeing fewer than three plays of actual football.

I tried once more to inspire her to enjoy the stadium. The crowd. The game. She continued to cry. 

"Okay," I said. "Take a couple of photos with me, and we'll go. Try to smile."

We did, and then we left. She wanted off this level immediately, and so we took the stairs all the way down to the exit. When I tried to pass through the gate into the parking lot, a police officer stopped me. "You can't exit this way. No re-entry from here."

"I know," I said.

"You don't understand. You won't be able to go back into the stadium."

I looked at Clara and then at him. "I know."

He looked at Clara, smiled, patted me on the back, and we were on our way to find ice cream in the Patriot Place shopping area.

Here is the truth:

I was annoyed at that moment. Really annoyed. Thousands of people - adults and children - were sitting around us, enjoying the game, reveling in the beautiful weather, bright colors, and excitement of a football game, and my daughter had been reduced to tears because her seats were too high. When I offered to find seats in a lower level, she declined. She just wanted to leave. Hours on a highway and still more hours of driving ahead had been reduced to three plays of football. 

Two incompletions and a punt. 

I was annoyed. Angry, even. I was prepared to talk about the importance of being brave. I was ready to talk about perspective. "Even though you were afraid, you were perfectly safe. Thousands of people around us agree. Can't you use that knowledge to overcome this fear?"

I was annoyed. Ready to speak. Ready to let her know how I felt. Then I said this to myself:

Three or four hours from now, when you're tucking this girl in bed, will you be happy that you told her that she needed to be brave? Will you be pleased with the conversation that you're about to start? Will you think of yourself as a good father when you tell your frightened little girl what she did wrong? Or will you regret speaking to her while you were annoyed?

It's something I say to myself often. As I'm about to complain, argue, order, demand, or criticize my children (and my students) for their decisions or behavior, I ask myself:

How are you going to feel about this later? Are you in the right frame of mind for this conversation? Is he or she in the right frame of mind? Is this the right moment to speak? Will you feel good about what you're about to say later on? 

So I squeezed Clara's hand instead as we crossed the parking lot and said, "I love you, Clara." She pulled me to a halt, hugged me, and said, "I love you, too, Daddy."

We ate ice cream in the courtyard and laughed. Checked the score on my phone. On the way to the parking lot, the horizon opened up to us. The sun was making it's final appearance of the day, just dipping out of sight. "Look, Daddy," Clara said. "It's so beautiful! Look at all the colors! Red and orange and yellow and even green. I think I see green!"

"It's the gloaming," I said. "Twilight. The few minutes before the sun disappears for the night."

"I love the gloaming," she said. Then she pulled me to a stop again just before we were about to cross Route 1. "Hold on," she said. "I want to watch the gloaming a little more."

We did. 

We listened to music on the way home. We played songs from our family playlists, designed specifically for long rides, skipping songs that we hadn't added to the list ourselves. 

Most Charlie's Coldplay and Elysha's Steely Dan. 

I told her stories about the musicians who made some of the music. She asked lots of questions. We sang loudly until she got sleepy, and then we sang quietly. 

She was already asleep when I tucked her in a couple hours later.

I'll probably talk to Clara about being brave today. I'll tell her that I'm performing standup comedy now because it scares me, and that whenever I find something that frightens me, I run to it.

I know that the right thing and the hard thing are often the same thing.

I'll tell her that even though I wanted to stay in my hotel room on the nights when I was recording my audiobook in Michigan earlier this summer, I forced myself to find a comedy club and perform. I did three sets on two different nights, and even though I was terrified to take those stages, I'm so happy I did. 

I'll tell her how important it is to try new things even though they might be scary. I'll tell her that missed opportunities should be the most frightening thing of all.

But I'll talk about all of this in the light of day, when we are relaxed and happy and thinking about that moment in the gloaming when all was good and right. 

Maybe she'll listen and believe. Maybe next time she'll give it another minute or two before asking to leave. If not, we'll find a way to make the best of it. We'll stand in the gloaming and listen to Springsteen and eat ice cream and laugh. 

It was certainly not what I expected from my little girl's first Patriots game. Not even close.  

It was so much better than I could have ever imagined.  

We were all changed forever.

Elysha and I took the kids to an outdoor concert on the lawn at Elizabeth Park last night. It's a Wednesday night tradition at the park, but my book tour, travel schedule, and poorly-timed rainstorms have kept me from attending a single concert this summer. 

I was excited to go.  

It was also about 90 degrees and muggy. Elysha actually proposed that we go on an ice cream adventure instead, but the kids and I wanted to go to the concert (and knew I could get soft-serve ice cream there), so to her credit, she agreed. 

As soon as we arrived, she was happy to be there. The air was a smidgen cooler than an hour before, and within seconds, she had found people who she knew and was chatting away. I took the kids for ice cream and Italian ice at the snack shack, and I, too, met some friends.

On the way back from the snack shack, I ran into a couple whose wedding I had officiated and DJ'd exactly ten years ago. They were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary at the concert and couldn't believe that they had run into me on this special night.

I also met people who attend Speak Up shows, parents from the school where I teach, and a gentleman who attended one of my workshops last year and was still looking for the courage to tell a story.

I gave him a firm nudge. 

A while later, Elysha left to use the restroom, and about three minutes after that, I heard the first rumble of thunder. I looked at the radar on my phone and saw the gap between two thunderstorms - one to the north and one to the south - narrowing rapidly. 

"When Elysha gets back, we might need to go," I thought.

A minute later, I watched as a streak of lightning appeared in the sky, not too far off, followed by an enormous crack of thunder. Charlie leapt into my lap and began crying. Clara offered her brother some comfort, and then a few seconds later an even louder crack of thunder erupted in the sky. Clara was in my lap in a flash, crying as well.

We have tough kids. 

I saw the clouds pouring in from the south and began willing Elysha to hurry. She was undoubtedly chatting with the nine thousand people who she had walked by and knew. I thought about packing up and being prepared to sprint as soon as she returned. While everyone around us was drinking wine, eating cheese, and relaxing without a care in the world, I was mentally urging my wife to hurry.

I knew what was coming.

Also, my children were still weeping in my arms.  

Then I saw Elysha, strolling in our direction. When she arrived at the blanket, I said, "We should go." I turned to point to the clouds behind us, and that's when I saw the wall of water making it's way across the field in our direction.

It was too late. It was one of those moments when it's not raining, and a second later, it's raining as hard as it possibly can. The children erupted into fits of crying and weeping as we were instantly soaked. Thunder cracked again. Lightning, too. I grabbed our blanket and food bag, and Elysha grabbed the kids hands, and we were off. 

We scurried past people who had placed their lawn chairs over their heads. Past people who had thought ahead and popped open umbrellas. Folks who hid under blankets and some who just stood in the rain, laughing. We ran past people huddled under a tent. Women who were suddenly and unexpectedly participating in a wet tee-shirt contest. Children who were slipping and sliding in the wet grass.  

We crossed the field and then the road and were making our way through the perennial garden toward the tree line and the path that would lead us to the street and our car when Elysha and I told the kids to stop crying. We'd had enough.

"We're having an adventure!" Elysha shouted, and that was it.

Both stopped crying. Clara started laughing, and Charlie instantly became mesmerized by the torrents of rain running down the path. "It's like a river!" he said. "And erosion!"

They talked and giggled and smiled all the way to the car. 

We couldn't have been more wet as we drove home. A few minutes later the rain slowed to a drizzle and then a trickle, and finally it stopped. That's when we saw the first of three rainbows that night. Three rainbows in the sky that the kids declared "beautiful" and "so pretty."

Later, after I peeled off Charlie's wet shirt, he said, "Dad, I feel kind of different."

"Yeah?" I asked. "How so?"

"I don't know," he said. "Just different. Like a different me."

I'm not sure what he meant, and I'm not sure he knew, either.

But I understood. I felt different, too. Elysha was right. We had an adventure. For the rest of our days, the four of us will always remember the night in Elizabeth Park when the skies opened up, spewing forth thunder, lightning, and sheets of rain, followed by rainbows. It will be the night when Elysha declared that "We are on an adventure," and for some reason, in an instant, our children agreed.

And were happy again. 

My daughter has a full time job (in her estimation, at least)

Clara was helping Elysha get dinner on the table. Putting out plates and silverware. Pouring milk for her brother.

Then she sighed and said:

"I’ve only been helping you for two or three minutes, and it already feels like a full time job that I’m not getting paid for." 

I was both appalled by the massive overstatement of the work she had just done and impressed by her desire to be paid for her efforts. The girl might have a horribly skewed understanding of what amounts to a full time job, but no employer is ever going to get away with not paying her a fair wage. 

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A small but glorious victory thanks to Charlie and Elysha

I'm on the beach with Charlie, watching him play in the sand when a man about my age approaches. My thought is always the same:

"Damn. He knows me, but I have no idea who he is. I hate this."

It happens all the time. 

But no. Instead, he reaches down and plucks one of our plastic shovels from the sand beside our wagon. 

"This is our shovel," he says.

I look around, hoping to see Elysha. I'm sure that the shovel is ours, but Elysha bought it. She can turn my 99% certainty into 100% certainty. But she's nowhere to be seen. I'm on my own.

"No," I say. "I think it's ours." I look at the other shovel in the wagon. Different colors but same design. "In fact I'm sure it's ours."

"No," he says, "It's mine, sir." 

Now I'm annoyed. The man isn't speaking in a voice to conveys a desire to discuss. This is not a negotiation. He's right, and I'm wrong. In fact, he might think we stole the damn thing. And he called me "sir." How annoying.

But Charlie is sitting at my feet, slowly becoming aware of the situation. I can't just lay into the guy while Charlie is listening. I can't just initiate my usual attack mode. Instead, I decide to respond with a bit of delicacy.

"Just because you're holding the shovel doesn't make it yours," I say. "And just because you think it's yours doesn't make it yours, either. But if you need the shovel that badly, take it. But it's ours."

"It's mine," he says forcefully. "It's my shovel."

"Yeah," I say flatly. "You said that already. Repeating yourself doesn't make it yours either, but go ahead. Take it."

The man starts to turn when Charlie reaches out and grabs the shovel. The man pulls on it, and I start to say, "No, Charlie!" when Charlie stops me.

"No," Charlie says, "Look." Charlie points to a sticker on the handle of the shovel. The sticker bears Charlie's name. His full name, in fact.

It turns out I wasn't alone after all. I had Charlie.  

"Is that your name?" I ask, pointing.

"Oh," the man says. "Well, it looks like mine."

"Maybe we shopped at the same store," I say. There's so much more I want to say. So much more I could say. But Charlie is here, and it's his moment. Instead, I smile. It's not a nice smile. 

Then the man steps away. I watch him circle the beach, continuing his search for his precious, plastic shovel. 

I'm ecstatic. A brilliant triple-teaming by my family. 

  1. Elysha has the foresight and wisdom to label our beach equipment.
  2. I avoid an angry confrontation on the beach by being direct, specific, but flexible in the face of arrogance. I keep my cool.   
  3. Charlie makes the man look very stupid. 

I had a wonderful weekend. A child's birthday party with lots of people who I like a lot. Dinner with the next-door neighbors. Swimming in the backyard pool. A trip to a new ice cream shop. A morning spent at the Coventry Farmer's market. A couple visits to the gym and an hour spent at the driving range. An afternoon at the beach, playing in the sand and water with the kids. Elysha in a bathing suit.

I even got some work done. Wrote some letters. Recorded and edited a podcast. Started the final revisions of my next novel. Worked on my musical. 

But those 90 seconds I spent on the beach with that man and Charlie constituted my favorite moment of the weekend. It's not even close. 

I like to win. I like to win verbal confrontations a lot. And I love decisive victories like the one we experienced today. A clear-cut victory.

Charlie said he liked it a lot, too.