How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Judging a Book by its Cover

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Sometimes you experience moments of pride in your kids. Sometimes those moments keep going, take a sudden turn, burst through a guardrail and soar off a cliff.


My sons and I were boys-night-outting it on a bit of a blind date with a recommended restaurant.

Our chuckling conversation kind of skidded out when we passed through the door; our date for the evening had apparently fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

I’m not really a food snob, but I’m big on atmosphere. It’s like plates if you think about it. Scooping your food off flowers and vines is going to go a whole lot better than plates with a pattern of flies and pig intestines.

Even my boys (12 and 14 years old) looked around with a kind of visible pity, but put on a good face. And by that I mean they refrained from openly gawking in disgust and used subtle gestures rather than outright “shout it from the mountain” pointing.

Our waitress came up and asked us… if I could move out of the way. As crude as it was she wasn’t mean about it, so my raised eyebrows where more a barometer of amusement than any irritation. When she returned, she seated us by way of flinging her arm generally at the room for us to choose our preference in the nearly-empty place.

We sat down and studied menus that were surprisingly stained despite their plastic sleeves. Which I read as follows:

~ ~ ~

Something I Wouldn’t Mind Trying

The Only Item on the Menu the Boys Will Probably Eat

No Way, Jose

The Boys Will Eat a Few Bites and then Poke at it
(stain that looks like President Lincoln)
The Boys Will Spit this Out

…and so forth…

~ ~ ~

Our cab driver posing as a waitress impatiently took our order, disappeared and then returned moments later.

“We’re out of [this thing that you ordered]. We don’t have any of [this alternate selection you’ll probably want]. There’s only [this and that item you would probably never have ordered].” So we resubmitted our order and crossed our fingers as our cabby waitress disappeared once more.

Ring! It was the wifey calling and I excused myself to step outside so I wasn’t “that” guy. I returned few minutes later and saw the waitress was now chatting with the boys.

She addressed me with wide eyes, “Wow. I’m impressed. He’s really a grade ahead and the other is two grades ahead?” I nodded and she seemed genuinely impressed, not phony ass-kissing-for-tips impressed. I’m not sure she even understood the concept of conducting herself in a manner calculated to earn a bigger tip.

She sauntered off brightly as I sat down with a pleased grin on my face. Pleased my boys had made such an impression.

My eyes followed the waitress back to the kitchen. It had one of those openings, like a diner, and it was pretty obvious that she was telling the chef about my boys. She pointed at them enthusiastically and I turned my head casually to follow her finger.

My eyes flashed wider as they settled on them…

I saw Cody and Max acting like chimps that had gotten into a barrel of whiskey. Their faces perfect comical masks of stupid goofballery. They’d just been joking about something… but the timing… (Sigh). My proud smile became that twitchy forced smile that doesn’t want to stay in place, like a cat being pet backwards. I was rubbing my forehead, in that weary way that parents do, as I turned to look back at the chef and saw the blank look on his face.

Some books you can’t judge by their cover because they look so dumb they’ve been placed in the way back.

It was a polite blankness, I knew. One that he was using to cover up a frown of confusion or dissatisfaction or digust.

I feel like I could read his mind: If this is what smart kids look like, what the #### do dumb kids look like?

I would have face-palmed if my hands hadn’t been so damned greasy. So, I tried to stop laughing and made a pretense of telling them to mind their manners. And then asked them to recreate it so I could take pictures. You know, as a teaching moment.

The food turned out to be good, the waitress pleasant and my smart boys completely brain dead. You really can’t judge a book by its cover.

Funny Pictures Yay Yay Yay!
That’s three yays. That’s practically a legally binding promise of a good time.

The Facebook has you, Neo.
See how deep the rabbit hole goes.


15 Responses to “Judging a Book by its Cover”

  1. Adorable. And they didn’t have ear buds hanging from their ears. SMARTEST KIDS EVER.

    • Andy says:

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha! My wife would probably amputate their ears if they started following in my ear-steps. Don’t worry, your dislike is well exceeded by hers. 😉

      P.S. Yay! ::begin “Got a Comment from Tanis” dance:: (Feel free to avert your eyes. It is advisable)

  2. Kyle says:

    Ossum… Sounds like me and my 3 brothers in a nutshell… Can’t wait for my boy (1 on the 2nd of Oct!) to behave like your angels!

  3. Stefanie says:

    And this is why having boys is the greatest gift in the world.

  4. Kez says:

    Haha awesome post – love the photos 🙂
    My son is only 10 months old but he looks older (at least a year and a teensy bit old) because he’s quite tall, and he’s a bit chubby (in a baby way). When we’re out, people judge him because they think he should be acting more grown up than he is. Poor little guy!

    • Andy says:

      Awwww. I completely dig it. Our littles one is a beanpole, but a really tall beanpole, so he encounters this too. It was the most awkward when speaking kids would come up to him and look dumbfounded that he couldn’t answer.

  5. Laurie says:

    I love this post! I think that is such a valuable lesson and one that is very hard to learn! Seems like you have some pretty great kids!

  6. CourtneyS says:

    this makes me giggle. my daughter who is just about six and so tiny she still wears a size 4t in clothing is in competitive Taekwon do. Every year since she was 3 I hear around the room “that cute little blond with the pig tails, isn’t she a doll singing and dancing not paying attention”.

    A few eye brows raise as she shuffles to the side of the room for the more advanced students. Then embarassed coughs and averted gazes as she inevitably hands some over eager, completely unprepared 9 year old his ass on a platter.

    I shouldn’t be condoning fighting, but DAMN shes so GOOD at it. and you’d NEVER guess at it with her fairy themed birthday parties, and the tutu shes so fond of wearing to school.

    Totally goes back to the book by the cover thing.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your entire experience. What a night out man! I hope you get something better the next time you plan for time out with your boys. Nice post anyways!

  8. sakis says:

    xaxax i love this post thanks

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