I knew a fastidious guy who often commented on the need for proper attire, neatness, cleanliness, and decorum. One day, we were talking about something or other and he started picking his nose. When I made note of that transgression, he said quite simply and without affect, “It’s okay. Mine is different.”
I wish I could convey the tone of his voice when he said it. He was matter of fact, the expert, letting me know that I had no need to worry because his was different. Nothing to see here, citizen. Just move along.
In the greatest feat of self-control I have ever mastered in my life, I did not laugh, sneer, chuckle, snort or make any comments about his assertion. Perhaps I was floored so completely I couldn’t react at all, but the conversation continued as if nothing had happened.
I was thinking about that situation recently as I began contemplating the Ten Days of Awe, beginning this evening with Rosh Hashanah and continuing through Yom Kippur. I’m not the most observant of Jews, but I get fully engaged in the period of introspection, confession and atonement that comprise the High Holidays. And in my more self-aware moments, I am reminded how much I am like my (mostly) fastidious friend.
Mine is different, or so I will claim in one way or another. All too frequently, I write myself a permission slip to excuse the things I just did, or the things I know I’ll do again. It’s okay, though, because I’m a good person and I’m not really hurting anyone, or hurting them much, and it’s only fair because they do it, too, and it’s not like they’re apologizing for what they did, which is much worse than what I did, and, anyway, they pretty much deserved it. And I’m a good person, dammit!!!
I’m not alone, of course. I am bombarded daily with explanations, excuses, and the total lack of any self-awareness exhibited by people who know they are justified, permitted, forgiven, graced. Perhaps our most human failure is our willingness to forgive ourselves for the things we would not forgive in others, a willingness to assert that a wrong is not wrong if the right people do it. And, of course, it is absolutely true that WE are the right people and THEY are not.
We never add up all the lame excuses, and then the Days of Awe arrive. It’s not a surprise, but the arrival of the holidays brings a sudden awareness that, maybe, Someone with an infallible memory has been tallying up the damage. Perhaps, Someone with a really great sense of right and wrong has noted our willingness to pardon ourselves as if we were the true judge. Even if a person has no faith in a Higher Being, the process of introspection and repentance is truly awe-full.
For the past year, much like my friend with the itchy nose, I’ve made too many excuses, too many deflections, too many claims that mine is different. That probably makes me like everyone else in the universe, but I’m not responsible for all of them, just myself. And so, I’ll be spending the next ten days hoping for a second chance, or maybe a 67th chance, to get this thing right. Wish me luck.
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In a travesty that is repeated every year without fail, the television industry will bestow its Emmy Awards on Sunday without a single acknowledgement of the most deserving performers in the entertainment industry. I’m calling for a boycott of the event until its leaders atone for this transgression.
Of course, people who tune in can expect the usual bad jokes and awkward acceptance speeches from this weekend's telecast. We’ll see clips from shows we never got around to streaming and all kinds of virtue signaling from the woke allies in show business, along with the requisite memorials for the stars who departed since Emmy last.
Conspicuously absent, though, will be much deserved recognition for the finest actors, choreographers, singers, dancers and other artists of the small screen. When will the Academy bestow its honors on the people who deserve awards the most?
Which people? Glad you asked. Here are the new awards they should add immediately to this year's show:
These are the performances that deserve the highest accolades of the profession. Anyone can do a good job with a solid script and good direction, but only the truly great can make us lose sleep over their zits. Join our boycott and let’s ensure that they get the credit they deserve.
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So we dusted off the passports this summer for a trip to Iceland, where tourists outnumber locals by about eight to one and they just held a funeral for the first glacier that melted away in the ongoing heat wave. Thoughts from the journey…
Speaking of broader horizons, we’d love to hear your pearls of wisdom about this whole travel thing. Share your comments with us and we’ll all be more sophisticated and worldly as a result.
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Not that I’m really needy and whiny and crave the attention of tiny young people who are blissfully unaware of all my flaws, but it’s worth noting that today is Grandparents Day across the United States.
While parents double-dip with Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June and then Parents’ Day in July, there’s only one day in the year for Grandparents, and it must be shared by both Gramps and Grammy. (Actually, I think I saw a National GILF day during my research, but this is a family blog and we’re not going there.)
Being a grandparent is one of the great joys in life, because it combines all the fun of having children with zero responsibility. Take them to the zoo, gorge them on cotton candy, buy them a puppy and then drop them off when they get cranky. If mom objects, remind her of that video with her singing on the toilet while she pooped.
(Disclaimer: I am supposed to note here that I do not actually have any videos of my daughters singing while they pooped. I do, however, have several that are even better.)
As grandparents go, I would describe myself as ridiculously greedy. I love spending time with the children and I make sure to file my requisition forms at least once a week. And why not? There are a ton of things that make grandchildren far, far superior to all other forms of people:
It’s important to reciprocate, of course. As a grandfather, I want my grandchildren to know there is always a person who is happy to see them, happy to play with them, happy to teach, happy to listen, and always, always, rooting for them. That’s not a tough investment on my part, and the returns are huge.
I know there will come a time when they're too cool for me, too engaged with their friends or their start-up businesses or their viral videos or whatever. Right now, though, we're still in the magic zone and it's time for me to fill out my requisition forms for next week’s visits.
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All of us at Dadwrites are about to begin a national movement. It’s a movement that will gladden the hearts of all Americans and heal the wounds of our universe.
This is the one common goal left to humanity in the internet age. We are divided irrevocably on pretty much everything, but we finally have a cause to unite us and restore our faith in each other. We must rise up in an unrelenting and ultimately victorious campaign to move Labor Day to October.
As it stands, Labor Day is a depressing holiday, a last three-day weekend to mark the end of summer. Everyone slumps in their lawn chairs and talks about getting back to work while they complain that the fireworks were better on Independence Day. When it’s time for all the guests to leave, nobody talks about their plans for the week ahead, because everyone is planning to be in the office on Tuesday morning.
Alas, what began as a celebration of the labor union movement has deteriorated into a celebration of Mondays. Yep, we get this one off, but then we’re working every Monday until MLK Day 21 weeks from now. But Labor Day can be much happier, and more apt, if we make the logical choice to move it back a month. The reasons are compelling and, dare we say, irrefutable.
First, the equinox won’t come until September 23, this year, fully three weeks after we bury the season with a holiday marking the “official end of summer.” Insanity!!! Summer is a gift to treasure, not a curse to be canceled. Much like our participation trophies, regrets, grudges, and sixteen, we should hold onto summer as long we can.
Second, the weather is going to stay summery well into October in most of the country, because that’s how weather works. Temperatures will still be warm, humidity levels will drop from their August peaks, and mosquito swarms will finally subside. We won’t notice it, though, because we all went back to work four weeks too early. What are we, nuts??
The sad reality is that September barbecues are never as relaxing or enjoyable as the same gatherings before Labor Day. Something is missing, and the missing ingredient is summer. We bury our best season prematurely at the start of September and then we just go through the motions. So sad.
But when we move Labor Day to October, we can finally return the holiday to its rightful role as a celebration of working stiffs, the people who build the buildings and plant the plants and assemble the assemblies. We can transform Labor Day into an upbeat extension of summer, rather than its forced execution. “Yeah, the days are shorter now that it’s officially fall, but we have about two weeks left until Labor Day,” we’d say, and we would be happier as a result.
When should the new Labor Day occur? We humbly propose the first Friday in October, which is the perfect date for a national holiday. Slotting Labor Day on a Friday will preserve the tradition of three-day weekends while dulling the sting of returning to work a few days later. At long last, people will have a real justification for all those TGIF memes.
Admit it. This is such a great idea that you’re already wondering two things:
We understand how you feel. The brainstorming team at Dadwrites is very proud of itself for this earthshaking idea and we are fine with sharing the credit with all the fans who inspire us to be creative geniuses. Or genii. Or whatever.
Enjoy your holiday and take heart. By this time next year, we will have achieved our goal and we will all be looking forward to another month of summer weekends.
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Writing a blog called Dad Writes, it’s natural for me to think about my own dad quite a bit. His approach to life shaped my journey and I learned a ton from his stories. Among them was a very old joke that he told me several times over the years, a joke whose meaning became much clearer as I matured.
Sign on a light pole:
One leg missing.
Right ear torn.
Blind in left eye.
Tail doesn’t wag.
Answers to the name of Lucky.
Okay, not the best joke in the world, but I’ve come to think of it as very meaningful.
Like other dogs, Lucky doesn’t mope around with resentments for the damage life inflicted on him. He doesn’t plot revenge for the torn ear and the broken tail. He doesn’t look at us with soulful eyes that seem to plead, “Why me?” Instead, he takes each day as a new opportunity to have fun and sniff out whatever life has to offer.
"Eat the same food every day? Sure."
"Poop in the snow? No problem."
"Sleep in a crate? Sounds swell."
"Stand still while other dogs smell your butt? Doesn’t everyone?"
After reconsidering my dad’s old joke, I’ve decided to live like a dog. I have a few scars and I’ve had parts removed and my psyche has suffered a few hundred slings and arrows, and every so often the weight of it all can wear on me. In spite of that, I want to wake up every day with a real gratitude for the life I have and the opportunity to have fun with whatever comes my way.
That doesn’t translate into treacly commentaries on the super-duper glee of mindless delight. Rather, it informs a philosophy of gratitude for what I have and confidence in my ability to deal with whatever comes next.
Lucky is undoubtedly dead by now, but a big chunk of my life is committed to following his example, his worldview, and his willingness to sniff absolutely anything. As he could teach us, everything in life is interesting and fun, in its own way.
By the way, Lucky would have loved the opportunity to subscribe to dadwrites and experience the joy of sniffing, or peeing on, our weekly updates. You, too, can live like a dog by clicking here to become a subscriber.
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.