Now that all of us are living through Groundhog Day—the movie, not the tourist trap—it’s time we update our myths to acknowledge our new reality.
As we all know, we're supposedly in for another six weeks of winter weather if the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2, but the weather will be mild if, like Peter Pan, our pudgy marmot cannot find his shadow. Either way, spring is seven weeks away.
I've always been confused by this rule. There would only be a shadow if the sun is shining, but a sunny day predicts rough weather and a gloomy day is good news? It’s not the goofiest idea in the world, but it’s not terribly logical. On the other hand, we’re taking our weather forecast from a rodent, so who are we to judge?
We’ve all been living our own version of Groundhog Day over the past year, beginning around GDay 2020, when millions of us saw our news feeds and retreated into our dens for six more weeks. And then another six weeks. And another six. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another, until here we are on the eve of GDay 2021, the sequel.
Along the way, we’ve had the opportunity to come up with much more relevant traditions than shadows and weather. Let’s update our mythology to reflect our own lives as burrowing mammals, including:
If I get on the scale and I cannot see my feet, I’m due for six more weeks of pretending to diet.
If I take my kid to school and none of the teachers is there, I’m in for six more weeks of sharing my computer.
If I can’t fit into my slacks and my my feet are too fat for my shoes, I’m headed for another six weeks of working from home.
If I call my barber and he’s still closed, I can expect six more weeks with a mullet.
If I check out the state’s website and our positivity rate is above 8%, I’ll be drinking alone, at home, for another six weeks.
Even if I yell "AGENT!!!" enough times to finally reach a human being at the airline, it will still be six more weeks before I get my refund. Maybe.
If I leave the apartment and I see my shadow—or if I don’t--we’re in for six more weeks of polarized politics across America. And six more weeks after that. And after that…
Now that I think about it, we can learn a lot from our friendly rodents. Maybe the best plan for my sanity is a return to my burrow for the next six weeks, emerging from my lair in time for the equinox. Things can’t possibly get worse in the meantime, could they?
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Am I the only one who’s surprised at the quiet distribution of inoculations so far? People get trampled to death when the shopping mall opens on Black Friday, but everyone’s waiting their turn calmly at the vaccination centers. Yes, most of the eligible civilians are 65 or older, so they're really tired, but the quiet is still a bit eerie. Of course, it would be much more hectic if they gave away a Tickle Me Elmo with each shot…
The longest leg of any trip is the ride home from the airport. That’s especially true for vacations, when you’ve had your fun and spent your money and your flight was delayed and you waited too long for your luggage and you have to get to work tomorrow, but first you’ll be staying up until midnight doing the laundry... I’m beginning to feel the same way about the path out of the pandemic. The federal government has arranged only a fraction of the distribution they promised by year end 2020, logistics at the local level are rockier than needed, and winter is in full force. After nearly a year of this, the last mile is looking longer and longer.
When you get away from politics and social media, the country looks much more resilient, much more sensible and not nearly as angry. I spent a couple of days on the phone in December, checking in on people I hadn’t spoken to in a while. We commiserated about life in the age of Covid, of course, but nobody whined about their place in the world. Some of my friends are doing well, others are struggling, but every one of them expressed gratitude for their situation and concern for others who are suffering more. People don’t post much on social media about their sympathy for others or their sense of appreciation for whatever they have. Maybe we should do more of that.
The biggest orphans in the pandemic are restaurants and bars, which are getting hit the hardest by limits and closures. Yes, infection risks are increased by the fact that people need to take off their masks to eat, but there are workarounds that could and should be in place by now. One year into this thing, local officials could have developed performance standards for ventilation or filtration and let restaurants stay open if they meet those standards. Instead, there’s a hodgepodge of rules about indoor/outdoor dining, capacity percentages, and full closures that are killing too many American dreams. In turn, some restaurant owners are complying and some are ignoring the rules, also without any link to measurable safety standards. By the summer, we’ll be dining outdoors across the entire country and, by fall, we could be approaching a real recovery. We’ll want to celebrate, but where will we go?
Meanwhile, count me among the people who are grateful for the anti-vaxx movement, because they’re reducing our wait time for the vaccine. If everyone was signing up, we’d all be waiting six months for the jab, but it’s looking closer to three months at this point. Hmmmm…if I spread some rumors about those microchips from Bill Gates, maybe I can cut our wait time even further.
No matter how you plan to obtain your immunity to this pandemic that might or might not be a hoax—have we covered all the bases here?—there’s no better way to spend the time than by clicking here to subscribe to Dad Writes.
It’s usually a bad idea to get behind me at the teller window, but it’s essential that you watch my favorite TV shows right away, as we explain below…
1. I check the freshness dates when I buy groceries, but they really should be more detailed than simply saying “best by” some date. I need usable insights like,
November 28: Still fresh
December 23: Getting a bit dicey
January 17: Feeling lucky, punk?
2. Speaking of which, my new shower door has a warning to avoid cleaning it with “harsh chemicals,” but I have no idea what that means. I suspect this is one of those questions that won’t get answered until it’s too late.
3. I washed my car, which caused it to rain. I got in line at the bank, which caused it to stop moving. I found a new favorite TV show, which suddenly got canceled. It turns out I’m very powerful, but for the wrong reasons.
4. Whenever somehow claims, “It’s absolutely a win-win,” I hear God saying, “Challenge accepted.”
5. “Wheel cover” sounds so much more elegant than “hubcap.” It’s like when people say flatulence or halitosis.
6. It’s amazing how many times we say things that absolutely cannot be true, like:
7. Every thought I have ever had, every pain, every joy, every tear, every disappointment, every surprise, every dream, has been preparing me for this moment. I really wish I had taken better notes.
8. I’m always amused by people who wish they had lived in a palace in Tsarist Russia. Of course, they think they would have been royals, not stable boys, and they also forget how it all ended for the Romanovs.
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Thanks to the pandemic, I’ve finally caught up on all the TV shows that I meant to watch, but somehow missed over the past twenty years. Now that I’m up to date, though, I’m finally in sync with Newton Minow on that whole “vast wasteland” thing.
Way too many shows are predictable claptrap or so-called reality shows that have nothing to do with the real world that most of us inhabit. Bachelors and Bachelorettes and Kardashians and Tiger Kings and frustrated hotties and…really, there’s nothing out there that reflects my reality, or yours.
I’m tired of watching people who are cooler and richer and better looking than I am doing things I’ll never get a chance to do, especially since I have spent my entire life watching people who are cooler and richer and better looking than I am doing things I’ll never get a chance to do. So, no, that’s not the kind of reality I’m talking about. What we need right now is a reality show that connects with us as we are, a show where we can see ourselves not only as contestants, but as winners. Isn’t it time we had something more approachable, something along the lines of:
Endless Zoom: Young parents must navigate 12 hours of Zoom meetings for work while caring for two children, a side job and a custom-bred labrapoodledoodle. Challenges include feeding an infant while delivering a PowerPoint, toilet training a toddler during a sales call, and remembering to mute while interviewing for a better job.
Meme Swap: This will remind everyone of wife swap, but there will be much more violence. Each contestant is required to post horrific, offensive and fraudulent content to social media for 18 hours per day, but the content must be the exact opposite of whatever they post otherwise. Challenges include: Convincing your friends your account wasn’t hacked, setting up a GoFundMe account for your worst nightmare, and flaming your grandmother.
Vaccine Nation: A group of 20-somethings with no pre-existing conditions or relevant jobs must move up in line for a vaccine so they can attend an immune-only gathering of A-Listers. Challenges include relocating to a state with excess vaccine supplies, creating exotic diseases that change their status, and catfishing a senator. (Actually, the last one probably isn’t much of a challenge at all.)
Monotony Island: Senior citizens who have been isolating for the past 10 months must prove they should still have their wits about them. Challenges include: “What day is it?”, “Did I eat lunch yet?”, and “Why am I in the closet?”
Local sponsors: Now that all the restaurants and local businesses have shut down and there’s nobody to support the park district sports teams, contestants will be required to sign up as sponsors for the summer season. Challenges include: stenciling 50 matching team shirts, feeding the kids and their families after the games, and making sure all the kids get exactly the same amount of playing time.
Pot luck dinner: Maybe we should call this lotsa luck dinner, because survival is not guaranteed. Contestants must assemble dinner from whatever items in the kitchen are well past their expiration dates. Challenges include: “Was it this color when we bought it?”, “That mold is penicillin, right?” and “Where’s the Ipecac?” (Actually, we think Top Chef already did this a few seasons ago, so never mind.)
Now these are the reality shows we’d all watch, and for two very good reasons. First, of course, they’d feel much more real to the rest of us and, second, they’d give us a chance to feel superior to the contestants instead of marveling at their wealth/style/looks/skill. And really, don’t we all need to feel superior to something these days?
Of course, the really superior people subscribe to Dad Writes. You can join them and be super-superior just by clicking here.
Yes, brand new year, fresh start, only a few days old and yet…it seems there was something you were going to do and you just haven’t gotten around to it. What was it? It was really important and the success of 2021 depends on it and you’re not going to be able to sleep at night until you figure it out.
Oh. Yeah. That’s it.
You forgot to make your New Year’s resolutions. What in the world were you (not) thinking when you didn’t tackle this critical project? Not to worry, though, because the scolds at Dad Writes has been working non-stop to find all the changes you should make in 2021 to become a better person.
We understand that some of this will be difficult, but it’s for your own good. You’ve really screwed up a lot in the past year—no offense—and you need some tough love guidance to get you back on the straight and narrow. The list of all the changes you need to make is huge, so we will just focus on the top ten resolutions that you must follow immediately:
These simple steps are guaranteed to make your 2021 even better than drowning in quicksand or dining on dung beetles. Even better, they give you absolute freedom to ignore all those so-called “experts” with their “wisdom” and “experience” and “good advice” and “common sense” that never works. No, no need to thank us. Making you a better person is the least we can do.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.