But I don’t WANNA ask for help

Image from telegraph.co.uk

Got back Thursday night

After four nights on a business trip.

Took a taxi home from the airport through the

Dark streets of my city.

I came in the front door

And stood for a moment in the dimmed, quiet living room.

Then I went into my son’s room and let myself

Wake him up a little–

I couldn’t resist–

By rubbing the warm back under the shirt.

My son speaks in complete sentences

When you wake him up,

As if picking up in the middle of a conversation:

“Will you sleep down here tonight?”

“No, but I’ll check on you before I go to sleep.”

“Do I have school tomorrow?”

“Yes, tomorrow’s Friday. Go back to sleep now.”

And he does!

I hate being away from home overnight because

Yes, I miss my family,

But also because

When I’m gone on a school night,

I have to ask three or four people for help.

And I hate asking for help.

I have to ask Joe to change his schedule,

I have to ask my brother or dad to

Come over in the morning to

Get my son to the bus stop,

I have to ask a neighbor to take my son after school once or twice.

And of course I have to ask my son

To be good, don’t be sad

While I’m gone.

So many people inconvenienced,

I always think.

So I call Joe the second night and ask about my son,

“How is he?”

Expecting reports of tantrums and tears.

“He’s fine,” Joe says.

“I think it’s good for him to get some time with me.”

I get a voice mail from my brother:

“Hey it was nice to spend some time with him.

I don’t want to wake up at 6 everyday to do it,

But every once in a while,

It’s really cool.”

And the neighbor:

“Yeah, the boys played cars and it was great.”

And my boy after I got home:

Perfectly normal,

In fact, particularly well-behaved.

Unaffected, it would seem

By my absence.

(I forget:

I’m not as important as I think.)

The fact is,

I don’t want to ask for help.

I don’t want to owe you,

Or have you balk at my nervous request.

“No, no, we’re fine. I got it,”

Has been my mantra.


If I don’t ask for help,

You don’t get the chance to help me.

It’s selfish to


Ask for help.

I need to give you the opportunity to be of service,

And give my son the opportunity to have a

Different experience–

Without me.

It’s scary though.

What if you say no?

Well I guess I’ll find out on my next overnight trip:

The day after Halloween.

All Saints Day.

Give my brother the chance to grope for sainthood by

Waking up an hour early to come over and help get

My son to the bus stop.

You’re welcome, Doug.


After 10 years without, a television

We got a TV.

It’s the shape of a movie screen.

It teeters on a circular stand–

It looks precarious, like one bump

Could send it over onto its face.

I haven’t owned a TV for ten years.

It all happened very fast:

Football season

Combined with an unexpected chunk of bonus cash,

And now we own an HD plasma smart TV.

Those who know me well


How conflicted I am over the

Introduction of the

Black screen into our home,

Yawning at me from across the living room.

As a kid I loved TV like everyone else,

After school watching Little House on the Prairie in the

Cool dark basement,

And when it was over at 5:00,

Supper time.

My brother and I got 1.5 hours of TV per day,

And we had to page through the TV guide that came in the Sunday paper

And highlight the shows we wanted to watch for the week.

As a teenager, I had a small black-and-white TV in my room.

All I watched was the 10:00 news on KARE-11,

And a M*A*S*H rerun if I could stay awake for it.

I think it was in college.

That I developed my squeamishness for


Dorm rooms,

Dorm lounges,

Apartments with roommates:

It seemed like there was


A TV on.

Laugh tracks,

Guns shooting and tires squealing.

And always someone on the

Couch scooping food into their mouth while

Completely transfixed by whatever was on the screen.

Yep, I judged.

Here we were,

At college,

Supposedly developing our minds into




And everyone seemed to


Lap up

Whatever the screen disgorged.

“It’s relaxing,” people would say.

It didn’t relax me.

TV made me anxious.

The chunky stop-and-start sound of

Channels being flipped through,

The blinking and flashing of the

Lights from the screen on the

Walls of a dark room.

When I left school and started living on my own,

I ditched the TV

Who has time to watch TV anyway?

Even before I had kids,

I was busy enough without it.

And then when I was around a TV,

Like in a hotel room,

Or at my parents’ house,

It felt like a treat to turn it on.

But then I’d flip

And flip

And flip,

And finally just settle for HGTV because there was




I made Joe promise we would set parameters

For the kids.

The idea of a child

Staring for hours at the screen

While the sunlight of a lovely day outside

Tracks across the walls,

Is anguish to me.

So we set some rules.

Joe has promised a minimum of flipping and a

Reasonable volume level.

And Netflix has Glee episodes,

Which this former show choir nerd has been wanting to check out

For years.


The house is empty right now, and quiet…

Maybe I could figure out this remote control and

Watch a quick episode of Glee before anyone comes home.