January is a cruel month. Right now, we all need a good laugh.
You don't see me talk about my family much in this mag. I'm more apt to dabble in that kind of thing on some of my other bylines, because they're more suited for it. I like to think that Intrepid is a little more hip, a little more underground, and I know it skews childless. If you're reading this and you have kids, you're in the minority. However, let me go out of my way to commend you for reaching this life-plateau and still wanting to know more about Spoon than Dr. Phil.
Although if that creepster gets any closer to Britney he'll start being known as PhilMac.
Or Old Dirty K-Phil.
So consider this the coming out party for my inner Dad. I've decided that I have to stop living a double-life, one of me out drinking the darkest and strongest brand of whisky available knowing full well that the hangover I'm about to employ will seriously impair my guitar work at the rehearsal of my alt-rock band or put a painful damper on the pickup football game I'm supposed to be at or even turn anything more than a half-hour on the Xbox into a what seems like spreadsheets.
The other me needs his space too. This is the guy that spends entire Saturday mornings at Dora the Explorer birthday parties making awkward conversation with the other idiots who couldn't come up with something that needed to be fixed around the house. The same guy who made a last minute run to the grocery store on New Year's Eve, not to buy beer and champagne like everyone else, but to pick up Jello, an economy-sized tube of Butt Paste, and the biggest damn box of Pizza Rolls I could find, because DAMMIT, WE'RE CELEBRATING!
There's no hiding it anymore.
But as these two worlds collided in what should have been a cultural vortex equal in destructive magnitude to adding "Andy" to the Family Ties cast, I realized that I didn't have to be assimilated into the minivan/Baby Bjorn lifestyle. See, I've had an epiphany. Well, no, more like a vision. And that vision?
I know what you're thinking. This is an idea so bad, it actually became a good idea for a second on its way to being a horrible idea - based on nothing more than the inertia of its own shittiness. There are only a few ways this experiment can end:
* My kids all acquire rat-tail haircuts and Buzzcocks T-shirts.
* I start wearing tight, shiny Prada pants exclusively.
* An uptick in my usage of the phrases "Word," "For Shizzle," "What up, dog?" and anything else that the kids were saying ten years ago. Unironically, I might add.
* Thousands of dollars wasted building a collection of etchings.
Look, I'm not suggesting that I'm going to suddenly start appreciating the delicate intricacies of vodka and Red Bull. And I'm certainly not running out to buy a Honda Element tomorrow. I'm very much not into any horror movie that randomly blends Gen-Y technology and dismemberings (Coming Soon! Instant Messenger of Death) and I still can't tell you the substantive difference between Jackass 2.5 and gay porn.
But I'm still out there swinging. And after a long and hard think and a little experimentation that may or may not have seriously messed up one of my children (just the one - she's our practice kid), I've determined that all I need to do to straddle that coolness line without appearing in the "Dos and Don'ts!" column of Social Services Quarterly, is tweak my fashion sense.
That's right. Here comes Daddy Wardrobe.
The biggest hurdle in blending Party Me with Birthday Party Me is the clothes. I was trending toward the all-too-familiar work/play split - where "work" consisted of Polo shirts (no dry cleaning) and wrinkle-free khakis (no ironing) and "play" was comprised of uncool T-shirts --
Note: As opposed to my cool T-shirts, which proudly announce my love for and/or loyalty to Jawbox, kitcshy Las Vegas, and Ur from Aqua Teen giving the 8-bit finger, the uncool T-shirts are the collection I have acquired over the years advertising my love for and/or loyalty to Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Hard Rock, and the color green.
-- and sweatpants. There's something conveniently depressing about wearing sweatpants from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., especially during those moments where I'm dispatched to, say, the grocery store or the gas station and I have to consider whether or not I'm going to change into jeans.
You can see where there would be room for improvement.
The simplest change is a shift in attitude, and you learn this pretty quickly when you have kids: Everything becomes disposable.
That's right. It can be somewhat difficult to admit, but every cherished object in your life is five seconds away from disaster. Your hi-def TV is one unregulated indoor soccer practice from sleek, pricey picture frame. That rich leather interior in your ride is secretly serving a second life as discarded Cheerio waiting area. So there's no reason why your vintage Darth Vader T-shirt with the old-school ring collar can't suddenly become a last-minute barf residue rag.
That stain? That's from when I was at CBGB in 1995 to see Foo Fighters right before they released the first record and no one knew who they were and Pat Smear spilled drugs on me during "Floaty."
Nope. That's vomit. Cottage-cheesy, smelly vomit from 2005 brought about from too much excitement over the Wiggles' "Big Red Car."
The same can be applied to the work regime. Only in this case there's obvious physical upkeep (the aforementioned ironing and dry cleaning) that can never get done - much like car-washing, ab-toning, and regularly scheduled shaving.
Solution: Single-handedly bring back the grunge-era wrinkly dress pants vibe.
Done. And done.
And the time saved by not "ironing" or "folding" can be applied to digging around on the web to find those awesome one-day sales where you can pick up a Polo shirt that looks exactly like a $12.99 Croft and Barrow Polo shirt only it's a Joseph Aboud Polo shirt. Again, if it's getting abused, it might as well devalue dramatically.
Say, what's that on your collar?
Five years ago answer: "Whoops! Lipstick!"
Today's answer: "Oh. Snot."
And that's all there is to it. Nothing life-changing. But if I can lead this trend like some modern-day Don Quixote screaming about how the toys BELONG IN THE PLAYROOM, I might be the impetus of those one-in-five guys at Hannah Montana actually comfortable in their own skin. And when you spot me at the convenience store, I may be buying "Fitties" instead of 40s, but I'll be wearing Diesel alligator and canvas shoes, and in my mind I'll still be a rock star.
Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.
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2.1.08 @ 9:45a
Thanks, Joe. I needed that. I've begun to contemplate the demise of my "coolness" as I review baby books with my wife, who is just about at the end of her first trimester.
2.1.08 @ 10:17a
I really hope baby vomit isn't the reason my brother's given me about a half-dozen of his ties in the last few months.
2.1.08 @ 3:26p
For those of you on your way to parenthood, baby vomit is the least of your worries. Trust me!
2.6.08 @ 7:31a
You know, there is something cool and yet comforting about a hot dad. I love those pics of men, shirtless and strong, holding an itty bitty baby.
Joe, you will always be in jeans and a black t-shirt in my mind.