Among the many needs of a modern man -- well, at least this particular modern man -- fresh air ranks high. Right up there with buffalo wings and chocolate milk.
The Houston Four Seasons Hotel is lovely, of course it is, a modern pleasure palace if ever there was one, but even the swankiest of containers is still, at the end of the day, a container. And I can't be contained. Now, say that last bit again, out loud, whilst pretending to rip off your shirt from the center of your chest, Bill Bixby-style. Funny, right?
During the 2+ days of the wonderful 2013 Dad 2.0 Summit last month, I took frequent respites beneath the warm Texas sun. I needed to escape the din, the conversation bubbles and the never-ending food spreads. I'm a loner, a fat loner who cannot say no to chocolate mousse shots. I mean, really -- CHOCOLATE MOUSSE SHOTS! Instead of more socialization and compulsory eating, I'd pop in my earbuds, queue up some loud indie rock and walk the mean streets of downtown Houston, thus continuing my crazed air guitarist solo tour of America that's been going strong since 2004. Upon one of my several returns to the hotel, at the intersection of Lamar and Caroline to be exact, there stood a human symbol of what we dudes and dudesses were discussing inside: a dad, alone with his infant daughter and pushing a primary-colored stroller. I was probably a bit too excited about this corollary, this symbolized extension of the speeches, panels and chats I'd soaked up up to that point in the weekend. I mean, there was a guy, with a little girl, in a non-pink and purple pram, with no technological gadgetry visible -- just the two of them enjoying a stroll in the fresh air, a modern man and his wee lass! I thought it beautiful.
Until I opened my mouth.
I did something my mother still warns me about (and with solid reasoning in this case): I talked to a stranger. I couldn't help myself! I simply had to say hey and add in how awesome I thought it was to see a dad and a daughter on an outing on that beautiful 70 degree afternoon. And so I did. And then this modern neanderthal proceeded to kick me in my very modern crotch. Not a literal wallop, mind you, but with a short and simple, begrudging retort that reinforced so many of the Madison Avenue portrayals of us dads that we inside are trying to change. He said, miserably, "Yeah, her mother left her with me today." He wasn't parenting at all! I had seen it the way I wanted to see it, which was, it turns out, radically different than how it was in, you know, real life. The guy was babysitting his own adorable daughter! I was paralyzed to reply. I simply turned away and dragged myself and my chin, which had smacked into the warm sidewalk when my mouth violently fell open, back into the hotel.
This post original appeared on Out With The Kids.