Saturday, February 16, 2013


To my son Tommy,

There was a vibe in the house, an all too familiar and funky vibe. It was our own personal version of cabin fever. I sensed, as is the responsibility of any good daddy, that something had to be done. So I decided to get us out of the house.

On your birthday a couple months ago, we did duckpins bowling. I remembered that the lanes had been fairly empty on that day. This left the erroneous impression that there will always be availability on weekends. I didn't account that your birthday was on a Sunday and your birthday also was on a Ravens playoff day. So armed with ignorance I decided we would do, as you call it, Duck McBowling.

Your mother hemmed and hawed between a looming school report responsibility and her desperate desire to come out and have some family fun. In the end she decided to have some fun. I made a few calls and offered the opportunity to join to your first cousins. Emma was the only one to take up our offer. I checked the website to make sure of the hours of operation, but my misconception of the bowling economical market trumped my gut instinct to call ahead to see if there were any lanes.

After picking up Emma, we pulled up to a packed parking lot at the bowling alley. I think if I ever installed a dashboard camera, I would install it facing the driver and passenger so we could capture the dumbfounded looks of your parents. The lack of parking spaces and the ten guys out front smoking cigs definitely did not bode well for our chances of bowling today. We sent your mother in anyhow to inquire. She said before she got to the counter, she heard the f-bomb dropped about six times and everyone seemed to be half gassed. It was a little bit before noon. She didn't even bother asking about lane availability.

Determined we were going to do something fun, it was time for your mother to match your father in less than brilliant ideas. She at least picked something we would end up doing and was definitely fun and family oriented. Still, I wouldn't quite say that Chuck-E-Cheese is a smart move on a Saturday. Evidently every family that was unable to bowl had the same idea. We tend to like less crowded events but we bravely went forward with the plan despite the crowd.

Besides a melt down of gigantic proportion near the end, we had a great time. You had fun and played with every kid you could at the restaurant. When it came time to leave, you staged a sit in using the ceiling tube play set to your advantage so my fat butt couldn't just snatch you up. It is moments like this that I recognize your genius, and realize that genius can be used in devious and evil selfish ways. Finally with some psychology and the ability to use line of sight to our advantage, your mother and I put on our own evil genius moves and got you to come down the slide from your tube hideout.

I have a feeling we will have more ill planned or ill advised outings in our future. Perhaps I will decide to finally take you real golfing and pick a day that will have some type of stripper outing on the same course. It is the type of stuff that usually happens to Downeys and is why we are so well rounded. I remember your grandfather getting all excited when the movie Conan the Barbarian came out because he used to love Conan from his childhood comic days. I think it was less than ten minutes into the movie that he realized that Conan was not being portrayed as the hero he remembered and that scoffing at the movie rating as he decided to bring his young son was not the right move. Walking out was, so we did. So be patient with your old man (and your mom but she makes a lot less mistakes) as you grow up. Learn to laugh and accept and just roll with the mistakes because they end up making the best stories for later in life.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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