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Five steps down from the landing on the backstairs, I can
position myself into a Spy Dad vantage, so that I can, you know, spy on my
And, I do.
It’s not the bad kind of spying though, so don’t get all
bent out of shape. I’m not clocking any stuff that the WikiLeaks people would
be interested in or anything like that. No, no, no. See, what I do is I stand
there in the kitchen doing my thing, chopping my green onions or sipping my
Corona light while I stare at the Facebook, lost in my own simplified mind,
when out of the blue I hear the first notes of music trickling down from
Check it out: I stop whatever I’m doing and sneak to the
bottom of those back stairs, slither up the first six or seven stairs with the
graceful stealth of a 41-year-old undercover meatball, and then peer up over
the carpeted edge of that very last step just as Randy Newman starts singing
that tune from Toy Story ("You’ve Got a Friend In Me") for the second time in a
And if I’m quiet enough, if I’m clandestine enough and paint
all of my moves in just the perfect tender shade of seriously slow-motion, then
I am typically rewarded as much as any big-time bird watcher or super duper
wagon train scout was ever rewarded when he poked his nose up over the
precipice of some edge somewhere and got an eyeball full of awesome.
I stare in absolute awe at a little person, breaded and
deep-fried in her mom and dad’s hot spattering pan of life, the same little baby girl who used to ride
around on my chest in a $30 Bjorn we bought at a yard sale in the
months leading up to the greatest thing that had ever happened to us; a thing
which we had no idea would move us and change us and better us and inspire us and
affect us in so many badass ways (you can never grasp these things ahead of
She never sees me if I can help it.
I watch her from my hiding place in these old farmhouse stairs as her
curls pop and tumble while she stagger-steps to the music, first moving her
little legs across her purple shag rug and then stopping as she seems to be
contemplating the very waves of piano and drum shooting through her on the
purest lightning this side of the Mississippi; a perfectly perfect combination
of Elaine Benes and Disco Travolta and Donald Duck and James Brown living
inside of the music, living inside of the song, and dancing her little heart
out in ways that make my insides leap up into the back of my face, covering my
brains in hot, dripping soul.
She never sees me if I can help it. I’m too sly; the payoff
is way too big now and I know it. I just can’t risk getting busted, you see.
There are times when
I’m there doing my spying when all of the sudden I feel vibrations behind me
and I look back for a sec and there’s Monica—my wife—her jaw dropped down to
her knees, her eyes lit up, as she peers past me and pokes my arm as if to
express that thing; that feeling which has no word in our language, or any