Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The middle toe and other potentially unnecessary things

...I wasn't even halfway through the powerpoint presentation when Gayle interrupted me. "So let me get this right. You want us to put our name on a care package full of complicated books, land mines and famine. This is quite frankly the worst presentation I've ever seen." With that she got up and stormed out of the board room. That's why "Oprah's least favorite things" didn't make it to shelves in time for Christmas. We're hoping for better luck in 2008.

On my way off to work last week I decided to quickly turn back for one more hug with little Charlie. What should have been a heartwarming moment between father and daughter quickly turned into an excruciating moment between bedpost and middle toe. In my haste I inadvertently booted the corner of my bed. After suffering through a day of nagging pain it had become quite evident that this was more than just a stubbed toe. The removal of my left sock quickly confirmed this diagnosis. My gnarled black toe was a clear indication of a bad sprain. The news hit hard. One minute I was in perfect health, the next I was facing a life-changing injury and a long, arduous road to recovery. At least that's what I thought. After a bit of research I quickly learned that having a sprained toe has actually zero impact on the injured party. Despite having an appendage being rendered absolutely I managed to go about my routine as I always have. Half-ass was not diminished to one-third or even one-quarter ass. I would not require the services of the "Make a Wish" foundation after all, which is too bad because I've always wanted to go to space camp.

What I learned from this harrowing ordeal was that not everything you view to be critical is so. Absence can in fact illuminate the fact that you are, in actuality, not missing anything at all. This had me quite worried as my wife and daughter are heading out of town some much deserved Florida sun (Charlie's been busting her ass studying for her SATs and learning how to drywall). What's to say that, to her, I would be the equivalent of that middle toe. Will a week or so away from Dad show her that I am completely superfluous? Anyone can make stupid faces and play the "blast off" game with her. Beyond that, what critical needs do I meet that can't be fulfilled from other sources? I imagined I had at least until she turned 14 before I became expendable. Suddenly I was completely convinced that day had already come still months short of her first birthday.

Luckily I arrived home a few nights ago to the reassuring sound of "Dadadadada". Despite the fact that that is all she ever says I immediately knew that if it wasn't for me she wouldn't be saying it so happily. Though admittedly not a signed contract there was something in that excitable expression and nonsensical babbling that clearly promised she would miss me and would be thrilled to see me upon her return. That split second immediately told me my worries were completely unfounded. I may be a lot of things but I am not, as of yet, unnecessary.

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