Quiz #104. Conduct Unbecoming

Why I am not telling you when I woke up this morning plus fatherhood confessions in Steve's Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Quiz for Tuesday, January 19, 2020.

Tuesday morning, January 19, 2021. 

Guess what? I am not going to tell you when I woke up. 


Credit Dr. Rick, Parenta-Life Coach.

When I was watching football with Sara by my side this weekend, this commercial came on.  We laughed out loud when we heard the advice from Dr. Rick, “You woke up early. No one cares.”

Guilty as charged. 

In writing this quiz, I have typically shared my wake-up time. I’ve done that to chart and note my own anxiety in these troubled times, but truth be told, getting up early is also just another part of getting older. So, even though I make a mental note each day of the exact time that I wake up by looking at the digital clock at the side of my bed, I’ll stop reporting my wake-up time in this quiz. I am sorry and acknowledge the words of the commercial’s fictional Dr. Rick, “No one cares.”  

On YouTube, this commercial is called “Seminar.” Looking at it again, I noticed the first image in the commercial is the name of the seminar from Dr. Rick, “Un-Become Your Parents.”

The ads are a send-up of the fact that as we get older, we get more like our parents.  That’s normal and natural.  And yet, during the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my life. How much of who I am did I get from my parents?  How am I different?  Why?  What’s more, how much of who my children are did they get from me?  How are they different?  Why?

I am sorry to say that my parents were ball-busters--and that’s a quality that I’ve inherited them. After we became adults, my mother instituted what became known as “typical gifts.”  They were given at Christmas and each family member was randomly assigned to get the “typical gift” for another.  My brother Richard who loved firefighting from his earliest days would often get some kind of fire memorabilia, but often, the gifts were a little mean--and my mother was often behind the worst of those.  I especially remember a bumper sticker she gave me about children being upset that their parents were spending their inheritance.  

When my father was first in a Senior facility with an independent apartment, I went over there to help him with an umbrella that he and my stepmother Judy had on the back deck.  The crank to get the umbrella up and down wasn’t working so I took it apart to fix it  With Sara by our side, my father poked fun at me, questioning and, yes, belittling everything I did. Sara noted it was the first time she’d seen this side of my father (which she’d previously seen in me).

Ball busts aside, I’ve also inherited a lot of good things from my parents--including a goofy sense of humor from my father.  Above, him with me for “No Shave November” in 2013.

I know that I was not an easy father.  In looking through the old family photos I have been scanning this week during my pandemic project to convert all my old pictures to digital, I came across two, both from a trip to the Outer Banks in 1991. 

The first shows me taking a picture of Betsy (who was only 8 months old at the time) while she was getting knocked over by a wave.  Her mother Wendy is rushing over to grab our toddling toddler while I remained unmoved with my camera, recording the moment.

Sorry, Betsy.

In the second image, I am holding Ted.  He’s clearly unhappy.  Maybe even terrified. I do not remember why he was upset, but in looking at the images that were taken before and after this one, we had all climbed to the top of a lighthouse.  It would not surprise me to discover that Ted didn’t want to be held in the arms of his 6-foot-5 father near the rail on top of the lighthouse.

Sorry, Ted.

As noted in Quiz #103. Ring in the New Year, this past weekend, I installed a Ring camera in the backyard. We’d gotten it as a Christmas present from Ted and Erica and wanted to use it to track animals in the yard after we spotted a fox that had wandered up to the back door on our back deck in the broad daylight.

One of the features of a Ring doorbell camera is that it alerts you whenever it detects motion.  This weekend, we’d get an alert from Ring every time we let the dogs out back to do their business.  Mostly, we just ignored those alerts, but Sunday night, I was upstairs in the guest room watching football when Sara let the dogs out back from the kitchen.  My phone alerted me to the dogs in the backyard and I clicked on the Ring notification.  That’s when I decided to try out another feature of the Ring.  I clicked on the microphone button and called to Happy. It turns out my voice on the Ring was very loud and Sara, unaware of what it was at first, heard it from the kitchen.  She went out back to see Happy cowering and shaking near the garage door where I’d installed the Ring. My voice in the dark from a blinking doorbell camera had scared her and she was not happy.  Sara made me promise to never do it again.  I can be a real asshole sometimes.

Sorry, Happy.

Monday night, January 17, I FaceTimed with Ted and Erica.  They’d read about my installing the Ring in Sunday’s quiz and wanted an update.  Ted’s also an online expert about the coronavirus and last week he had alerted us when New Jersey changed its criteria for who was now eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine.  As noted in Quiz #103. Ring in the New Year, the state now has more than 100 vaccine sites but not nearly enough vaccines.  You need to get an appointment at one of those sites to get a shot. Last week, Ted had sent us a list of the vaccine sites in New Jersey.  Monday night, he told me that he uses a monitoring service that automatically sends out an alert whenever there’s a change in a particular website.  He’s signed up to monitor the webpage for vaccine appointments from our county here in New Jersey. When the website changes and appointments become available, we’ll now get an alert thanks to Ted.

To help me keep track of the daily pills I now take, in the last week, I have started using one of those pill holders with the days of the week.  In the opening lines of this quiz,  I did not note the time when I woke up this Tuesday morning.  (It was 5:42AM.  I can’t help myself.)  Still, I did not need any reminder from the pill holder--or otherwise--to know that this was Tuesday morning.

As noted in Quiz #10. Tuesday, I have long noted that Tuesday is the worst day of the week. During the pandemic, as before, I typically start off Tuesday with a jolt of energy,  a commitment to getting things done.  For this Tuesday, for example, I didn’t plan on writing a quiz this morning--and yet here I am, eschewing a mid-morning nap on what could be a long work week. I’m writing because I think I have something to say.  Sleep can wait, I want to get something done.

And yet, it’s been my experience that as Tuesday goes on, the tide will turn--both for me and those around me.  Stymied by disappointment and frustrated by the invariable roadblocks of life, we do not get everything done and things usually go off the rails by mid-afternoon.  By the end of Tuesday, there's always a sense that the week will never end--that we’re mired in the now.  

In many ways, this day, January 19, 2021, is the ultimate Tuesday.  A deadly virus, raging with no end in sight.  A nation on high alert, worried about a repeat of deadly violence in our nation's capital during Wednesday’s Presidential Inauguration. 

Unbecoming isn’t easy.

Change is hard.

And yet, broadly speaking, I know that Wednesday is coming.  Maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

Help is on the way.

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What did NOT happen?

A. This weekend, I settled on a whiskey sour recipe: ¼ part lemon juice; ¼ part simple syrup and ½ part bourbon.  Using the shaker that’s part of a bartending kit I got for Christmas from John, this is the recipe I now use to make myself an occasional weekend drink.  Whiskey sours were my father’s go-to-drink.  He made his with something called “Hi-Lem” which I have been unable to find on the internet;

B. In my Monday FaceTime with Ted and Erica, our grand-daughter Marin ended the call.  She likes to press the red “X;”

C. This weekend, Annie posted a picture to social media showing a McDonald’s delivery and her adult coloring book, “Ordering McDonald’s and coloring a book of swear words. Quarantine paradise;”

D. That viral video of Tom Brady and Drew Brees playing with their kids after Sunday’s playoff game was taken by the son of a former co-worker who now works for the Phillies;

E. Tuesday morning, I found out about the explicit texts sent by the newly hired and now fired General Manager of the New York Mets in a social media post from a friend who works for the Phillies.

Want the answer?

Answer #104. Conduct Unbecoming.

If you’re a subscriber, the answer will be sent to you as a separate email when the question is published.

Want more?

Here’s the next quiz in the series: Quiz #105. Still Standing.

Here’s the previous quiz in the series: Quiz #103. Ring in the New Year.

Here’s the first quiz in the series: Quiz #1. Stella and Social Distancing, March 13, 2020

Here is an archive of all the quizzes.

The quiz is explained here: Steve’s Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Quiz.

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