"Daddy, have you seen the car keys?"
"On the table near the door -- you're going already?"
"I'm late -- I told Marisa I'd pick her up on the way over."
"So whose party is this again? This is Ben's party?"
"The one from school?"
"The one from school."
"And you're sure his parents will be there?"
"I just want to be sure. And you'll be home when?"
"Well, I'll start leaving at 11:30."
"That's good. So you'll be home by midnight."
"'Well' what? You said this Ben lives across town, right? So that's a half hour, tops. And if you're leaving at 11:30, you're home by midnight, so -- "
"I didn't say we'd be leaving at 11:30. I said we'd start leaving at 11:30."
"Right. And a half hour after that, it's midnight, so you're -- "
"Daddy, you're not listening. Starting to leave at 11:30 doesn't mean we're absolutely out the door at 11:30. We have to get our coats, don't we?"
"Which means first we have to dig our coats out from under the whole pile of coats, which could take time, especially if some of the coats look alike. And then -- "
"Take a scarf."
"Take a scarf -- that way you'll know it's your coat."
"Fine. I'm already taking a scarf, but I don't know about Marisa, so she'll still have to find her coat. And then -- "
"You're taking her home, too?"
"If she wants to go when I go. Otherwise I go, and she goes later."
"You aren't waiting for her?"
"Not if she's going later."
"How much later?"
"How do I know how much later! I haven't even picked her up yet, and you want to know when she's leaving! If she's ready to go, she'll leave when I leave. Otherwise, she'll stay, OK?"
"Fine. So you find your coat. Or both your coats. I still don't see how -- "
"We can't just walk out, can we? We have to say goodbye to everyone."
"What's the big deal? You say goodbye, you walk out the door. Done."
"And if they're dancing?"
"Remind me -- are their ears closed when they're dancing?"
"And plans? We have to make plans, don't we?"
"Right that minute? You can call them later."
"You're the one who's always saying not to call while I'm driving, aren't you? So this way I -- "
"Fine. You make plans. How long can that take?"
"It depends. Who's standing where. Who's talking to who. Who isn't supposed to know. Who -- "
"Sounds pretty complicated."
"It is complicated! You're not even -- "
"I'm just saying I thought 11:30 meant 11:30. Now it sounds like 11:30 could mean 2 in the morning."
"It won't be 2 in the morning! It -- almost definitely it won't be 2 in the morning."
"It all depends! Look, I can't just tell you I'm leaving at such-and-such an exact time until I see what's going on there! You know, what the conditions are!"
"I promise I'll try, OK? I'll do whatever I can do to get totally home as soon as I can. Now stop worrying, OK? I'll be fine."
"What if I just start to stop worrying?"
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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at email@example.com.
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