For those of you unfamiliar with this aspect of the site, this is when I answer real questions submitted by my readers. Some of the questions are related to parenting. Some of them are, um...not.
As per my usual disclaimer, I'd like to state that I have no professional child-rearing experience and the opinions offered here are solely my own. In other words, you get what you pay for.
Let's kick things off, shall we?
Dear Metro...My wife and I are expecting our first son in a few months so we've been spending a lot of time coming up with boys' names. Lately, I noticed that my wife's been suggesting some strange names---Lloyd, Denny, Lane. Finally, I realized that all the names she's been bringing up are movie characters played by John Cusack. Dude, I think she's got the Cusack Crush! What am I supposed to do? Help!
-Michael (Toronto, CA)
As Chuck Klosterman once wrote, it's much more likely that your wife is not actually in love with John Cusack. Like countless women born between 1965 and 1978, she's probably just crushing on Lloyd Dobler, the optimistic, charmingly loquacious teenager from "Say Anything."
My advice to you is to just forget about it. No red-blooded American male can live up to the standards set by Lloyd Dobler. You know it. Your wife knows it. Heck, even your unborn kid knows it. But whatever happens, don't start channeling your inner Dobler. There's nothing sadder than an overtly sensitive old guy in a black trench coat holding a boom box over his head below his wife's window. As annoying as your wife's crush might be, just realize there's nothing you can do about it and that, as far as names for your kid go, Lloyd Dobler isn't the worst choice.
Just be thankful that she didn't want to name the kid Jake Ryan.
Dear MD...Since you're a fellow Korean-American parent, I'm writing to seek your advice. I briefly remember you discussing a similar predicament before. Our problem is that we live in an area that is predominantly white and, at least twice a week, some crazy lady will see our 9-month old daughter and shriek, "Oh.My.God! Asian babies are soooo cute. I totally want one!" Every time this happens, I'm stunned into silence. What's the appropriate response?
-Henry (Savannah, GA)
My standard reply is: "FUCK YEAH! You should totally get one! Ours is awesome. She's from Korea but you can get them even cheaper now from China. I hear if you use your credit card, you can even earn miles. But seriously, if you want one really fast, just go sleep with a bunch of random Asian dudes."
That usually shuts them up.
By the way, my brothers, don't say I never did anything for you.
Hey MD---How did a total city slicker like you end up coming to
Berkeley? You must have stuck out like a sore thumb. I'm a Bay Area native and I'm going to grad school at NYU. Got any
advice for me?
-Steven (Berkeley, CA)
Don't get me wrong, Steve. I miss Berkeley. I've been all over this planet but Berkeley is quite unique. Nowhere else in the world will you find a man with a turban wearing a 49'ers jacket and working in a lesbian bookstore.
But hey, I'm just glad dad is working again.
In all seriousness, moving to Berkeley was easy. It's much more difficult to make the transition to New York City. My friend Kin did it once and the first week he was here, he got hit by a car three times. For some strange reason, he thought that pedestrians had the right of way (by the way, always watch the traffic. NEVER look at the street light. In the history of NYC, nobody ever got run over by a street light.)
But hey, I don't want to scare you, Steve. If you really want to move here, let me be the first to welcome you. NYC is a great place and we could use some more Californians around here (so we don't have to fly out there in order to prove our intellectual superiority.) Just ditch the tie-dye, throw away the Birkenstocks, and stop complaining about our vegetables.
And remember...if you smell something weird in your building, it's probably just your dead neighbor.
Dear MetroDad...What's the rule on holidays with the family? More specifically, what's the rule for New Year's? Just because I'm married with kids, does this mean I have to spend New Year's Eve with them? Some buddies of mine are going to be in town and I'm thinking of ditching the wife and kids to party with them. Hell, everyone in my house will be asleep by 10:00 anyway. Is this legit? Or is my wife going to go through the roof?
-James G. (New York, NY)
Jimmy G...a lot of people like to say that anyone can be a father but that it takes a real man to be a Dad. What a crock of bullshit. Ditching your wife and kid on New Year's Eve to suck beer bongs and tequila shots with the fellas? THAT takes some serious fucking balls.
Let me know how that works out for you.
MD...Recently, you mentioned your man-crush on Alec Baldwin's character on "30 Rock." Don't you find it amazing that Baldwin has made such an amazing comeback? After all, it was just a few years ago that he was a total nut job married to that train wreck, Kim Basinger. This has to be the greatest comeback of all time. What do you think?
-Al (Evanston, IL)
Alec Baldwin's comeback has to rank right up there with Ali's "Rumble in the Jungle," Michael Jordan's post-retirement championships, and Seabiscuit's return to glory. Five years ago, Baldwin was literally getting by on cameos in "Friends," "The Fairly OddParents" and "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie." Ever since "The Cooler,' he's by far the best in everything he's been in.
But, in all honesty, I think my man-crush on his "30 Rock" character is really just an extension of my enormous crush on Tina Fey and her writing for the character. There's simply nobody on television getting better lines than Alec Baldwin right now. Sadly, it's really the only reason to even watch the show. However, at least every episode, you can count on Baldwin's character making you snort with laughter...
''The Italians have a saying, Lemon: 'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.' And although they've never won a war or mass-produced a decent car, in this area they are correct.''
"I like you, Liz. You have the boldness of a much younger woman."
"Your shoes, they make you look bi-curious."
"Sorry I'm late. I was at a luncheon for Ann Coulter's 60th birthday."
Dear MetroDad---We've just had our third child and, due to the soaring costs of daycare, we're contemplating getting a nanny. None of our friends have nannies and we're just starting to interview potential candidates. Got any advice for us?
-Adam (Miami, FL)
Hiring a nanny to care for your children is a difficult decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. After all, you're basically letting a complete stranger into your home and allowing her to watch your most precious assets all day long. That fact alone can make you fraught with anxiety.
Did you know that when people install hidden nanny cams, more than 20% of the nannies end up getting fired the very next day? Is it any wonder that sites like this exist?
We don't have a nanny anymore. However, I can pass on some valuable advice based on our past experience. Here it is...
1. No good-looking nannies. The uglier, the better. Aside from appeasing your wife, an ugly nanny won't be distracted by potential suitors and can focus her full attention on the children.
2. Age is a tough call. Young nannies may show up to work with a hangover or leave to get married. On the other hand, old nannies smell funny and can't bend over very well.
3. During the interview, have your wife dial her cell phone and check her ring tone. If it plays "My Humps" or the theme song to "Scarface," don't hire her. There's a good chance your potential hiree is a wanna-be gangsta or an undercover skank.
4. Speaking of skanks, definitely check your nanny's MySpace page. If she's only wearing a bra and her screen-name is KrazyKatKiller, you might want to reconsider whether she's sufficiently responsible to care for your child.
5. Likewise, check to see whether she has a blog. For all you know, in her spare time, she likes to bite the heads off bats, torch homeless people, or masturbate while watching Lou Dobbs.
6. Acceptable nanny duties: folding children's laundry, cleaning dishes, emptying diaper genie.
7. Unacceptable nanny duties: running out in the rain for a pack of smokes, chopping up lines of cocaine, massaging your stinky feet.
8. If hiring an illegal alien, be sure to keep her passport so she can't escape. Also, don't forget to feed her every once in awhile. A hungry nanny will have a hard time lavishing your progeny with the love and affection they so richly deserve.
9. You are required to fill out the appropriate federal paperwork and pay taxes only if you harbor any future political aspirations. If not, you can pay cold, hard cash. Just don't be a cheapskate. Nannies work their asses off and deserve as much money as you can afford to give.
10. Assume that your nanny will be gossiping at the playground about you. If you don't want neighbors to know that you like to wear garter belts and your wife is screwing the gardener, don't hire a nanny.
Dear MetroDad...I love my 10-year old daughter more than life itself. She's a great kid, stays out of trouble and is always very respectful. My only complaint is that she and all her little friends are completely hooked on the TV show, "That's So Raven!" They quote lines from the show, know all the words to the musical segments, and are constantly running around the house saying, "That is SO Raven!" Please help me before I go absolutely insane!
-Julie (Seattle, WA)
C'mon, Julie. Lighten up. You never had a TV show that you and your friends were obsessed with? For us, it was "What's Happening?" My buddies and I would dance the robot like Rerun, greet each other by saying, "Hey, hey, hey," and would walk around saying, "Which Doobie you be?"
I'll agree with you that hearing "That is SO Raven" all the time would make me want to put a bullet in my head but it's all part of the cycle of life. Think about all the annoying catchphrases from your youth. Was there anything worse than hearing kids saying, "Where's the beef?" or "Book 'em, Danno!" Then, you had all the frat boy idiots running around yelling, "Whassup?" Recently, I've been hearing kids on the subway screaming, "I'm Rick James, bitch!" Totally annoying, right?
Sadly, it seems that the use of catch phrases is embedded in the human genome. Even though I'm 38 years old, I subconsciously still find myself using stupid phrases that I pick up from television. For example, a few months ago, I started watching "Survivor" for the first time. Now, I like to end every conference at work by standing up and solemnly saying, "The tribe has spoken."
Could anything be more annoying than that?
As always, feel free to e-mail me any questions or post them in the comments section.