May 1999 Sincerely Sire Newsletter
What Would You Do?
Last night Rosemarie (Roe) and I were enjoying a pleasant evening at home watching “You’ve Got Mail” on our new DVD player when, Scarlett, our 23-year-old daughter, (set to graduate from UCI in June) came pounding down the stairs with an urgent announcement. She had just received a very important phone call and was unexpectedly going to have to drive to LA to meet a friend and listen to his band play. Since it was already past 10 p.m. and she had a class in the morning, I tired to dissuade her from going, but it was only a half-hearted effort (I have learned by now that neither of my girls listen to anything whatsoever that I have to say).
She goes back upstairs, gets dressed, and about a half an hour later storms back down and on her way out says, “Oh, by the way Dad, one of my head-lights is almost out. Is that okay?”
This got my attention (Roe’s too); I put the movie on pause. “What do you mean, almost out? I’ve never seen a headlight that’s almost out. It either works or it doesn’t.”
“Well I don’t know.” Scarlett said. “I can’t really tell for sure because I’m always in the car when the headlights are on.”
She said all this as she was dashing towards the door to leave. This caused me to leap off the couch to stop her and check her car’s headlights, which prompted my hard-liner wife, who was preoccupied with trying to re-start the movie, to exclaim, “Let her go! It’s her life. If she wants to drive to LA with one headlight that’s her decision. She’s 23 years old!”
I found Roe’s voice very grating and irritating but I moved on in spite of her little poisonous daggers. There was no way I as going to let Scarlett drive to LA with one headlight.
By the time I got outside Scarlett had her car started and her headlights on, no, make that headlight. Yes, her passenger side headlight was totally, completely, and entirely - - - out.
“If you drive to LA with one headlight I am going to be really, really, really really mad,” I said as I turned and went back into the house.
“It’s totally out,” I told Roe anticipating a reaction of shock and concern, but all she did was furiously keep punching the buttons on the remote.
“It’s her life,” Roe said. If she gets a ticket she’s going to pay for it!”
Scarlett had an idea. “Can I use one of your cars?”
“NO!” Roe said as the TV screen turned solid blue and the DVD disc ejected.
Scarlett spun around and marched out the door. “I’ll be really really mad if you leave,” I yelled after her.
And then as I scrambled indecisively after Scarlett I said to Roe, “Maybe we should let her use one of our cars.” (I worry enough about my girls when they drive a car with two headlights.)
Simultaneously punching buttons on the controls and protesting condescendingly, Roe yelled after me, “Okay, go ahead. That’s why the girls are the way they are, because you’re such a little something er other.” (I really couldn’t make out the last few words, but I got the message. She was challenging my manhood, and she was going to be really really really, really mad if I broke down and let Scarlett use one of our cars.)
I made a decision. If she didn’t mind Scarlett driving to LA with one headlight then neither did I; besides, Scarlett wouldn’t dare leave now, knowing how angry I was - - - Right then I heard the mechanical thud of the garage door closing. I looked out the window just in time to see that her rear taillights were working perfectly.
Roe and I got in a big fight that night. But for awhile I was the only one fighting, because Roe, as usual, had rolled over to her side of the bed and gone soundly to sleep.
I ended up down on the couch listening to the dog snore. About 2 a.m. Roe came down and feigned complete ignorance. “What’s the matter? What in the world are you doing down here?”
I told her that she had challenged me, and that we had both acted irresponsibly in not letting Scarlett use one of our cars. She countered that Scarlett was a full-blown adult and we should let her make her own decisions.
“Where do you draw the line?” I asked. “Suppose she had wanted to drive to LA without any headlights? Suppose you knew no matter what you said she was going to go. Should we let her use our car under those circumstances?”
“Hmm?” she said.
I guess if the “girls” weren’t living at home we wouldn’t have to make these kinds of decisions, but they are for now.
I know if I had it to do over again, I would let her use my car - - - And what would Roe do if she had it to do over again? Probably body-slam her and throw her in the closet.