Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 29

with 2 comments

Even though I am not currently working, my weekend days still take on their traditional roles: Saturday is my day of “rest” where because I am unplugged from technology, I insult my wife in a more old-fashioned way, in front of friends.  That fire died out quickly last night, by the way.  I think my wife realized that we are probably closer to my next infraction than we are to my last one so it’s best just to move on.  Sunday is still the day in which I dedicate the morning to my “yoga” “practice” and the rest of the day to accompanying one or both of my children to various activities, with the NY Times Crossword puzzle finished somewhere in between.  Today fit the Sunday pattern perfectly– except the bottom half of the puzzle is unfinished in the bathroom.   As a side note, I can’t overestimate how important doing the Sunday puzzle is to me.  It is the only reason I buy the NY Times on Sunday, it is my remaining routine I had from when I actually lived in New York in my early twenties and it is the one thing that battles the Aspartame for the long-term functionality of my brain.  Which is why it was exceptionally maddening two weeks ago when our housekeeper saw fit to tear out the Sunday puzzle from the paper and use it to write down a phone number.  I honestly would have preferred if she had scrawled the number in permanent ink on the wall, because I could picture the scenario where that would be necessary.  My mind doesn’t go to the place where she would receive an important number, run to my bathroom to look for something to write it on, flip to the penultimate page of the Sunday Magazine, notice that there were letters in two thirds of the boxes on that page, ignore that fact, write down the phone number she’s trying to remember, then rip out that page and put the magazine back.  WHAT THE HELL?!  But then again maybe my brain can’t imagine that because it is being ravaged by whatever brain disease DOING THE CROSSWORD PUZZLE KEPT AT BAY!!!!

Anyway, Sunday.  Today started off with yoga, which as I explained earlier, is like getting a physical for me.  There is nothing in my life I love more being done with than yoga.  Twenty years in, and I still sound like that “cow in a can” that makes a bleating moo sound when you turn it over it, every time I attempt to touch my toes or balance myself on anything other than both feet or a chair.  But, alas, today I had an excuse.  That masseuse who tore at my groin for an hour last week told my wife that I am the tightest person she’s ever worked on.  Look at that!  A superlative.  It is the second superlative I have received in my post-High School years, the first being named “The Funniest Man on Wall Street” by the Boston Comedy Club in NYC circa 1989 (another story for another time).  In any case, I’m wondering if my being diagnosed as clinically tight allows me to write off yoga as a medical expense, at least emotionally.

After another grueling battle with yoga (it was a draw), I returned home ready to take my son for the day.  Lately I’ve been taking my son and my wife takes my daughter just because my dynamic with my daughter can be more fragile.  She’s very shy, and when I drop her off at a party, I try to break the ice for her by saying things like, “Hey, Sasha’s here!” and announcing “Sasha, if you don’t do karaoke with your friends, then I will!”  My son, on the other hand, is younger and as not been as ruined by me yet.  In fairness to me: A: I am working hard on my relationship with my daughter whom I love very much and B: I’m sure I’ve equally ruined my son but he’s a boy so it’s harder to notice.  A week ago today was the baseball meltdown.  I avoided that meltdown today by offering him the chance to opt out of baseball for Cub Scouts.  That’s why today was the day of the Cub Scouts meltdown which resulted in my empty threat of “Caleb, if you don’t make your Pinewood Derby car with your den then I will!”

I’d like to take a moment to talk about Cub Scouts if I can– and I can because I’m writing.  I remember doing Cub Scouts as a kid, and the thing I remember most about it was carving a car for the Pinewood Derby, which is the Cub Scouts signature event.  (I recall fondly my father and I making an “irregular” car.  I don’t remember if we raced it or not, but I remember it featured a pipe-cleaner Cub Scout in the driver’s seat and was put together on our pool-table cum work bench in our basement with a lot of glue and leftover nails and wheels).  When my wife found out there was a local troop and many of the boys in my son’s class were going to do it (many = one as it turns out), I was quick to jump at the chance of father-son bonding.  But then, at the first meeting, something happened.  Firstly, I was freaked out by grown-ups dressed like children.  Something seemed icky to me about seeing a 50 year old guy with badges, shorts, work boots and a kerchief.  Also, maybe because of my ancestry, seeing a bunch of people in brown uniforms also makes me unsettled.  Then I remembered that a few years ago there was a problem with the boy scouts because they wouldn’t let gay people be scout leaders.  And also, isn’t the Boy Scouts run by some right wing religious organization?  These were all flags to me.  Plus there were so many flags!

So, at our introductory scout meeting, as my son colored in his food pyramid, I turned to the person next to me whom I kind of knew but didn’t know anything about his politics other than his wife was our pack leader so I tread lightly, “So… does it bother you that you’re putting your kid into a homophobic organization?”  “Excuse me?”  “The Boy Scouts don’t allow homosexuals.  Are you okay with that for your son?”  (It’s probably important to know at this point that our troop, 360 is a Jewish troop comprised mostly of religious kids and this meeting was held in the rec room of a local synagogue).  “Um… the homosexual stuff doesn’t really come up.  These are 7 year old boys, we mostly do projects.”  “Yes,” I continued, “But what if it does?  And what if your son asks you if it’s okay to be a gay boy scout and they say no?  I notice your son tucks his shirt in.”  “Excuse me,” he walked away.  I then approached a woman I knew better than the racist homophobe I had just shamed and confronted her with the same questions.  She said, “Honestly, those things bother me about the Boy Scouts, but we’re our own isolated group here.  Since we’re a Jewish troop, the Boy Scouts just leaves us alone.  We have an affiliation in name only.”  This is where I became my strident best, “So you admit the Boy Scouts are anti-Semitic?”  The woman looked around at the number of men with large beards, yarmulkes and bandanas in the room, “Look, I understand where you’re coming from, but this is just a social group where we teach the kids about stranger danger, fire safety, community involvement and get to go on overnights and nature walks. But if you don’t want to be involved, I totally get it.”  Hmmm, who knew that she was a sexist racist anti-Semite as well?  I then looked through the Cub Scout handbook (the Aryan Youth had handbooks I immediately thought) and on the first page it just said, “Do Your Best”.  And as the book went on it spoke about God and country and being a good citizen, all the things that I believe in.  (And one of the scout leaders is clearly a lesbian– or a very effeminate guy– so I had that cover).  And then I flipped to the page about the Pinewood Derby, and I was sold.

So today, Caleb and I painted and weighed and polished and burnished and sanded our own “irregular car”.   Caleb got excited because he got to use a drill, and I got excited because three of the four wheels moved and there weren’t any screws left over: in fact we were missing a screw!  And I’m guessing we don’t have a prayer against the nine guys with Asperger’s who brought their own custom car kits and protractors and had cars where all four wheels moved, but I do know that we Did Our Best.  And that’s gotta be worth something.

This is irregular! Oh, wait, it has no wheels.


Written by 100daysoff

March 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. [Standing Ovation] [additional round of applause] !!!!!


    March 14, 2011 at 5:58 pm

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