First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Conversations of Hope and Vodka

I open the freezer to take out the vodka. It pours thick, clear, oily.  Doesn't even burn a little going down.

Here's what I told my daughter when her Connecticut Grampa called today to cancel a visit to celebrate her recently passed 6th birthday. She asked where he was a little before bedtime, so I told her.

"Well, in Boston, there was an explosion during the marathon. You know what the marathon is?" She nods her head. Her teacher's mother ran it. She's unharmed.

"Someone planted a bomb and it exploded and caused a huge mess in the middle of the city so that part of the city is closed. They closed it so that they could investigate and find out who planted the bomb and also so they could clean up the mess. So that makes traveling near or through the city really difficult. But he said he'd come up on Friday, ok?"

"What's a bomb?" she asks. Heh.

I feel like I always knew what a bomb was. Growing up during the Cold War will do that, I guess. She managed to make it six years without that knowledge. Beautiful, naive, little punk.

"Well, " I said. I say well when I'm buying time. "Well, a bomb is something that someone makes and puts somewhere so that it'll explode. It causes explosions."

She raises her eyebrows. "Shit," they seem to say. An impressive new nugget for her to squirrel away in her perfect head. Soon, before she goes back to school, we'll probably have to give her a little more information. Maybe we won't. I don't yet know.

I don't blame the old man for canceling. The phone conversation was disjointed. He was disjointed. Uncommon for him these days. He sited traffic and his wife's fear of going through the tunnel as reasons. They were plenty good enough. He could've sited restless leg syndrome and his horoscope. Not used to hearing him feel guilty. Not used to hearing him scared. Funny, that.

So she knows there was a bomb. And she knows what a bomb is. I don't really know what the boy knows. We haven't told him anything, but in the hours following the explosions he told us he kept, "thinking about scary things." Maybe it was connected, maybe not. He's the child that needs the night time incantations, the monster checks in the closet. Then again, my wife and I were pretty fucking tense. While we limited their exposure to the news we still had our handheld devices and our wagging tongues. Who knows?

That's the over arching way I'm feeling. Who knows? Who knows what this means? Who knows who did it? Who knows how I'm supposed to keep my kids safe in a world of random violence?  Who knows how many of the first responders and helpful civilians actually feel like heroes? Maybe they just feel like the clean-up crew. The surgeons at our multitude of excellent hospitals probably feel ok about themselves today, but you know, surgeons.

I know only this: I've got kids. And I've got to be able to let them make their own judgements and have their own dreams about this world. Which means, I've got to have hope. Silly, stupid, irrational hope.  I hope that if it's a domestic terrorist, it wakes us all up to how much work we have to do in this country. If it's a Muslim terrorist, I hope it wakes us all up to how much work we have to do with Muslim people. I hope the fucked up individual who did this is not a brown Muslim person, for all our sakes. I hope that someday soon I'll overhear a loud voice at a local bar crow, "Yeah boy! That's what you fahkin' get for fahkin' with my fahkin' city, muthah fahkuh!"

Mostly, I hope because despair takes almost as large toll on my liquor cabinet as hope does. And also, fuck it. It's going to be in the low 60's tomorrow and my kids and I are going to the park.


My hope and wishes for recovery go out to everyone involved. People of Boston I love you.


  1. See, I just lie. "Grandpa didn't feel so well, so he's coming Friday instead." Although, as you point out, she'd probably hear about it at school, anyway. So eerie seeing that guy on the security cameras, isn't it? Why, oh why, didn't someone notice his putting down that backpack? I guess they were all focused on the race.

  2. And I hope when they make a movie about it, Ben Affleck plays that guy shouting in the bar.

  3. At the top of my list of what makes these attacks so difficult are two things. I hate that parents of younger kids are being forced to have some kind of conversation about things little ones shouldn't have to worry about. It breaks my heart that the senior citizens are watching the world unravel after having survived the horrors of WWII, Korea, or Vietnam.


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