And it only took me five and a half years! That has to be a record of some sort...
I have an abundance of time to observe the idiosyncrasies of life during my eight minute, two mile drive to work. The recent rainstorm on Monday (net precipitation: -.01 inches) reminded me of my favorite thing about driving in the rain in Southern California: watching the sun-drenched natives react to this "weird wet stuff, like, falling from the sky and making it, like, hard to see outta my window, man".
When I left for work in the wee early hours of the morning (7:45) on Monday, the intensity of the raging storm was somewhere between a mild mist and a subtle sprinkling, not unlike the automatic spritzers which keep the produce wet in the supermarket. It's the sort of torrent that requires you to give your windshield a once-over with the wipers every ten or fifteen seconds or so. One might call it a bum moistener, a ruined car wash, or a reason to rethink your footwear choice from flip flops to shoes.
And yet, this does not stop certain drivers from exhibiting a peculiar behavior which I search for whenever a window wetter of a storm like this hits.
Instead of an occasional gentle burst from the wipers, or even a low intermittent setting, these drivers have their windshield wipers set on "excited dog". They have their wipers wagging on the absolute maximum setting, easily restricting their vision more than the rain could ever do. Do these people know that there are settings lower than "crazed metronome"? If they're accustomed to using the highest setting for the slightest bit of rain, I wonder if they feel that the fastest is inadequate when it actually pours? If they could, they'd probably turn the wipers up so high that the heat generated from the friction of the blades whipping back and forth would actually cause the water to evaporate before it hits the windshield.
Another thing that I notice while driving that seems a little silly to me is those little stick figure decals that people put on their car windows to represent their families.
For instance, a typical Southern California decal set looks something like this:
In other words, you've got typical parents with their socially acceptable though culturally unsustainable 2.5 kids (each pet apparently accounts for .25 in this pic).
When I see decals like this, I think about the "what if" possibility. Like, what if I lived in Utah? Would I see a decal like this?
Or what would you think if you passed by a car with the following decals? I know I would switch lanes.
What I don't get is how unrealistic they all are. I always see these decals being used to portray a fun-loving family where the dad is an athletic surfer guy who is obviously his kids' best friend because he's so incredibly cool, the mom is still a stylish and involved person who can make an applesauce stain look glamorous, the kids are equally vivacious and socially brilliant, and the family pet is the cutest thing since my daughter.
However, in reality, this is Southern California. The dad probably works 80 hours a week to support a lifestyle that he still can't afford or enjoy, the mom probably hires a housekeeper, has the kids in daycare, gets weekly makeovers and the occasional face-lift, and works full-time just to afford these things, the kids are probably fat from a steady diet of no exercise and daily fast food, and they likely get the majority of their parental guidance from sitting slack-jawed in front of the idiot box, and nothing is cuter than my daughter.
Speaking of my daughter (end awesome segue), Emily is seven months old now. We had a father/daughter evening at the park tonight while Mommy stayed home and rested (she's sick with a cold) after a full day of taking care of Emily. We drove to a nearby park at 5:30 after I got home from work, put her in the jogging stroller, and went over to the basketball courts. I put the stroller between the 3-point line and half-court, facing the basket, and shot around for 25 minutes. She enjoyed watching Daddy play, and also entertained herself with her favorite rattle.
She eventually got bored and told me as much. I responded to her cries by putting my basketball into the storage area below the stroller and strolling to the dirt track right next to the courts. I then ran four laps around the track, while Emily provided sound effects. The track is a little bumpy, so Emily would emit a monotone "aaaaaahhhhhhhhh" and the vibration would turn it into "ahAHahAHahAHahAHahAH" She did that for at least half of the time - she loves hearing her voice especially when it vibrates either by her getting bounced or by someone tapping her mouth.
I got tired eventually, and started a cool-down walk. After ten minutes or so, we headed back to my car. An hour had passed, and I figured I would pack up and go home.
But when I picked up Emmy, she was so happy to be held that I decided to head over to the swings for a little while. I put her in the little swing that has the restraint chain and pushed her - she loved it. We did that for a while until Daddy started getting jealous, so I picked her up, sat on an adult swing, put her in my lap facing me, and swung with her.
She was very animated when she swung in her own swing, but she was much more subdued and relaxed when she swung with me. She seemed to like being able to swing a little higher, and she might have liked being in Daddy's warm arms, who knows? After a few minutes, just as I was starting to slow down, her head hit my chest. Less than a minute later, she was asleep on my chest while still swinging. Once we stopped, I half walked, half snuggled her to the car and drove home.
I like being a daddy.