Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Drums, Puppies, and Mayor Koch

Ed Koch was the mayor of New York City from 1977-1988 and the frequent subject of dinner table conversation at my parents' house. This was back when my mom allegedly worked fewer than 18 hours a day and used our kitchen for cooking, rather than a call center for take-out Indian and sushi. My dad would complain about everything Mayor Koch was doing wrong, and I would repeatedly ask why, if he could do the job better, he didn't just run for mayor himself? I was just barely too young to be sarcastic so it was an honest question. Since Mayor Koch sucked so hard, I figured my dad should obviously just step in and run NYC right. 

I dusted off this mental snapshot today while thinking about other things that fall into this category: the category of things that sound perfectly reasonable to your child-self, but completely crazy to your adult-self. Other than my dad being the mayor of New York City, drum kits and puppies came instantly to mind. I begged my parents for both a drum kit and a puppy. Both requests were summarily dismissed because we lived in an apartment (too loud for the neighbors and inhumane, respectively). It wasn't until one of my Juneau sister wives (see prior post titled: "Sister Wives") "gave" us her family's drum kit that I came to appreciate the validity and wisdom of my parents' denial. I put "gave" in quotes, because a "gift" implies something good and welcome, which this did not turn out to be. Oh the drum kit was great when it lived at my sister wife's house and before either of us had kids. At that time, we'd use it to punctuate every joke we told with a comedy-club "badum-dum-CHH!," leading to yet more peals of laughter. Turns out a drum kit is MUCH less funny when it's in a bedroom on the main floor of your house and pounded violently at every opportunity by every child who crosses the threshold of your home. 

The same sort of logic applies to puppies. I love dogs and wish I wasn't allergic to them. And I know my parents love dogs too. But the inhumanity of a dog in an apartment wasn't the real reason why my parents wouldn't let me have a dog. The real reason was that dogs are an enormous amount of work and you literally need to handle their shit at least twice a day if you live in a city. And everyone knows kids don't do that. Yes, kids have chores and pseudo-responsibilities, but they are oblivious to noise and they have no idea what it really means to take care of a dog. Having won the drum kit battle without even knowing it, my kids still had the temerity to request a puppy. 

My child-self was indignant at my own parents' refusal to get me a dog: "I will never do this to my children!," I thought to myself then. "I will always think puppies and drum kits are fun and carefree, and I will always--ALWAYS!--honor my own children's eminently reasonable requests for both!" While my adult-self and child-self clearly don't share the same view of puppies and drum kits, I still think my dad would make a pretty good mayor.

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