Commentary by William Carter: Ta-dahfor ten
By William Carter
Not only is this the tenth anniversary —this month—of me writing this column, I’ve also just been informed that spell check doesn’t recognize “Ta-dah,” which is weird because if “Ta-dah” doesn’t spell “Ta-dah,” just exactly what in the hell does it spell?
Whatever the case, since I’ve been typing for ten years now, and my fingers are very tired, I’ve decided to take a break. I am dusting off my very first column for y’all.
Teetering atop my son’s dresser is a foot-high nest of papers and such, some of which are spilling to the floor.
Sticking up from the pile, covered to the shoulders, is the blue, plastic Godzilla action-figure he got when he was three or four. Stacks of CDs and zombie videos litter the floor like well-placed snares and I have to be careful of where I step. Hanging from the bedposts are what seem to be a hundred different types of hats and several have tumbled to the bed, which probably hasn’t been made in a month.
The bookshelf is overflowing with books. I notice, with no small sense of satisfaction, that a lot of the titles are ones I recommended. They’re all well worn and well read, as books are apt to become in our home. His walls are covered, floor to ceiling, with posters of bands and pictures of cartoon, half-nekkid, fantasy women— some of which scare me. There are bass guitars in stands on the floor and trombones and drumsticks and, Lord help me, an accordion.
I haven’t touched anything, though; I’m only looking. And he’d kill me if he knew I was in here.
But I sit on his bed and just look, because he’s leaving tomorrow, going away to college, and I’m trying to figure out where all of that time went. I thought maybe there’d be some clues in his room. And I’m looking when no one else is around because I’ve been doing the Dad-thing and trying to act as if it doesn’t bother me he won’t be around every day anymore. So I look around alone because no one wants to witness a middle-aged, bald guy getting all weepy and emotional; it’s not a pretty sight. When others are here, I go into Dad-mode and grumble and gripe and pretend I’m immune to his leaving.
I sit in amazement at how phenomenal the tricks of time are because I’m pretty sure it was only a couple of years ago we brought him home from the hospital, wrapped in a tiny Hawaiian shirt. I was petrified.
Hasn’t it only been eight or nine months since the first day of first grade? And I’m positive it was only last year that an all-points family bulletin was sent out to four states in a frantic search for the “Ghost Buster Firehouse” play-set he had to have for Christmas.
Maybe it was only a week ago he asked to sit with me in my lap during the scary parts of “The X-Files.” And I’m trying hard now to remember if the last time I picked him up I somehow knew it was the last time, and so I held him a little bit longer than usual.
But then we were dropping him off at his friend’s homes for parties and then there were the band trips and Boy Scouts and high school and then the urge to drive.
He asked me once what it meant that his oil light had been on for a couple of weeks. And, when did the joke about him soon being taller than me become more than a joke? The constant practice on the guitar slowly drove me insane until the day I paused at the top of the stairs, listening outside his bedroom door, and heard real music flowing from his fingers. I’m still more than a little bit awed.
There’s a lovely, young lady in his life now.
I should have been forewarned by all of the entrance exams during his senior year and by the flurry of never-ending paperwork. And the trips with his mother just a few weeks ago to buy the essentials for his room at school should have served to soften the blow a bit.
Yeah, I knew he was going away one day.
Just not so soon.
And, no—in case you’re wondering—I don’t think I’m ready.
So if you happen to catch a glimpse of a tear in the eye of someone who’s not supposed to cry, say, for example, a middle-aged bald guy who seems to be a little lost, just give him his moment. He’ll get over it.
As for you, kid, do your best and don’t worry about the old man.
He’ll be at home, doing the Dad-thing…pretending a lot.
And, wondering if your oil light is on.
William Carter is a longtime Franklin city employee and published author. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on: 9/25/2013