Really Dad? 'The bachelor and other lizards'
For the first seven or eight years of Michaela’s life, we did not subscribe to cable, and the only entertainment we played on our 12-inch television screen consisted of Blockbuster videos and the occasional recorded VCR tapes of American Idol that Lisa’s mom would mail up from Alabama because of her growing concern that our kids were being culturally deprived by not knowing who Kelly Clarkson or Adam Lambert were. My idea was that the kids could not miss something they never experienced. I dreamt that the kids would be hunkered down in their rooms transported to exotic places by Jules Verne and Daniel Defoe, their journeys limited only by their imaginations.
What a long slide down the slippery slope since that Super Bowl weekend years ago when I sprang for a whopping 24-inch screen and plugged in cable. “The Bachelor”? Really, Michaela? Who watches that contrived nonsense about some two-time loser playing tonsil hockey with 30 women, agonizing over who goes home and who gets a rose? Michaela and my wife, that’s who. So unless I want to sit by myself in the living room reading a book, I have to listen to Nick the nitwit philosophize about whether the third time will be a charm. Thank God, after bedding three of the contestants, one before the show began and two during the climax of the season, he was able to select his soul mate. Now if he can only find his soul.
Ever since my son left for college a couple of years ago, I have been consistently outnumbered whenever there is a vote for a television program. So I am relegated to watching chick flicks like “This Is Us” or “Vampire Diaries.” If I try to watch something a little more hard-hitting, like NCIS, my wife will boycott the show, claiming there is too much violence. And if I turn on “48 Hours” or “20/20,” Michaela will storm out of the den horrified that I am so absorbed by these redundant murder mysteries.
On the increasingly rare weekend nights that Michaela graces us with her presence, I crank up the woodstove and scan the latest movies available “On Demand” while simultaneously checking the “Rotten Tomatoes” rating on my iPhone. Apparently it annoys Michaela that, unlike her, I don’t just pick movies by how cute their title is (how did “Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel” work out?) but I have found some real gems that way. It is not my fault you have to read subtitles for most of them.
There is hope for us: Last night we watched a Planet Earth Two episode and loved it. It was Mother Nature’s version of “The Bachelor,” in which male Komodo dragons fight ferociously over their mutual girlfriend until one of the giant lizards is wrestled into submission, the winner earning his rose. Who would have thought that two reptiles slapping each other silly with their tails could restore harmony in the household? And happily, unlike our friend Nick, the bachelor, these lizards mate for life.
Most nights, after we have finished dinner, my family unwinds watching a one-hour TV show in the living room. This means that we all have to agree upon which On Demand show we will play each evening. You would think that with a social worker and a lawyer as parents, coming to any sort of compromise would be a breeze. You would think wrong. My mother, the tender and loving hand that guides her clients to a middle ground day in and day out, is ruthless. And my dad, a man literally paid to negotiate, is like a toddler fighting over a toy. My mom pulls the “I never get to sit down and watch with you guys; can we please watch something I enjoy this once?” Interesting. After religiously following several seasons of “The Voice” per her request, I would have guessed that we watched it more times than “this once.” Then the whining begins in my other ear, “Mick, I’ve had a very stressful day, I just want to relax.” Well jeez, with this level of exasperation, my advice is to never become a solo practitioner because if every day is that trying, it can’t be worth it. He just wants to watch “Cool Cool LJ,” which, in my father’s language, translates to his favorite cop show, NCIS: Los Angeles, featuring the actor LL Cool J. Really, Dad? You could at least make an effort to say the name right.
Now that you have the teams, I’ll give you the play-by-play. Dad’s move first: He waits, silently pouting, until we announce that we will be watching my choice, “The Bachelor,” and then he pounces. First complaining, followed by a threat to go to bed, roping Mom in for the defensive move. Mom comes in, guns blazing, frustrated that we can’t come to a consensus. First she yells at Dad for not spending time with the family, then it’s my fault. “You knew he was going to do this, let’s just watch his stupid show so he’ll be happy.” Then Dad with the assist. “Yeah, Mick, come on!” The crowd goes wild: Dad wins yet again! This defeat would probably be much more disappointing if my dad wasn’t going to fall asleep any minute.
… 4 … 3 … 2 … “This is The Voice!” Sleep tight, Daddy.
Mike Kerin is a lawyer in Milford, and his daughter, Michaela, is a student at Amity High School. In their column, this father and daughter bicker and banter about boys, curfews, homework, stress at school, dress codes, and a host of other issues that represent the jagged edges of adolescence which they must navigate every day, sometimes with humor, sometimes with sarcasm, always with love.