Today was Carlo’s preschool Christmas party. So instead of picking him up at 3:15, I went at 2:45 to help out and join in the festivities.
When I got there all the kids were at their tables waiting for snacks. Two or three moms were there to help out. I was the only dad. The teacher put us all to work handing out the plates, cups, napkins and food. My job was to hand out the apple and pineapple slices. Carlo said I was the “fruit helper.” Soon the other kids called me fruit helper too. A couple of them called me “Mr. Carlo’s daddy.”
As the kids ate, the moms and I stood to the side and talked. One of them asked me “So, what do you, um …” and left it hanging, obviously intending to ask me what I did for a living. In half an instant, her brain seemed to process the fact that she was talking to a jean-sneakers-and-hoodie-wearing, one-or-two-day unshaven father who was free to hand out fruit in the middle of a Thursday afternoon, and realized that I was quite probably unemployed.
I get the sense that your average suburban mom doesn’t encounter too many dads at these sorts of things.
I briefly toyed with the notion of allowing her to feel awkward for a while, but I let her off the hook and told her what I do now. “Oh, like the guy from ‘Everybody Loves Raymond!’” she said. That’s the second time I have heard that this week. Do people not know what sports writers do outside of the context of that show?
The party soon broke up and I took Carlo home. In the car he told me that I was a really good fruit helper.
“I don’t have school again for two weeks. That’s fourteen days.”
“I know Buddy.”
“It’ll be 2010 when I go back to school.”
“That’s next year so it’s a long time.”