Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Robert Wilder's "Daddy Needs A Drink"

Robert Wilder's column, “Daddy Needs a Drink,” is published monthly in the Santa Fe Reporter.

Daddy Needs a Drink is his first book; he applied the "Page 99 Test" to it and reported the following:
Just last week, a woman in a silk bowler stopped me on the street to tell me how much she enjoyed my daughter Poppy in a recent performance she was in. In a feeble attempt to be humble on my daughter’s (and my) behalf, I asked her casually, “Oh, did you like it?” The woman became quite angry with me as if I had just insulted her grandmother’s cat and yelled, “Didn’t YOU see it?” about two inches from my face. The excerpt below is from when Poppy was still in preschool. This fall she’ll be entering the sixth grade. Obviously, I’m still struggling with the murky area between deep humility and bragging about my daughter acting and singing confidently in an ensemble cast on the main stage in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have a feeling that I’ll be struggling like this for a very long time.

Excerpt from page 99 of Daddy Needs a Drink:

Santa Fe is a relatively small town and it got back to my wife that I was arrogant, a snob, and far too proud of my daughter and myself. I don’t know what the gaggle of strawdogs expected, maybe another round of bloody marys with sides of tequila to thank them? So I changed my compliment-reply-tactic from silence to what all those obnoxious bumper stickers had advertised to me; I would practice kindness of the not-so-random variety. A few months later at her preschool open house, a man I had never met saw Poppy acting out the role of grocery store clerk in the dramatic play area. She had on the standard dress-up garb: dandruffy adult glasses, oversized lab coat, pink feather boa and high heels donated from some reformed ex-hooker. Reminded me of Dennis Rodman when he started his fall from what little grace he had. Poppy was muttering something about the injustice of tax on food and clothing when the father said: “Is that your daughter?”

“She is today,” I answered good-naturedly. He shot me a soft and confused look. I could tell he was one of those overly sensitive Santa Fe males from his fuzzy sweater, comfortable shoes, yoga pants, tortoise shell spectacles and hair like a toy poodle’s.

“She is very precious, you know,” he said as if passing on some odd snippet of trivia he’d just read. “And articulate. So very clever.”

I landed my new approach: “Thank you so much. You are very kind to say that. Very kind.” Which he was. I thought it would end there, and I could go home and tell my wife that my reputation in this town was changing, yessirree bob. Soon, they’d be calling me Humble Hank. Surprisingly, poodle man grabbed me by the shoulders and stared deeply into my eyes.
Visit Robert Wilder's website to read more about Daddy Needs A Drink, including a few choice excerpts.

--Marshal Zeringue