Dad Wins The Olympic Gold Medal of Child Embarrassment

Charlie Capen, co-author of The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions, reminisces about his father.

The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions by Andy Herald and Charlie Capen Charlie Capen and Andy Herald are the authors of The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions. Anyone who has tried to sleep with a baby is probably familiar with “The Snow Angel,” “The Booby Trap,” and “The Roundhouse Kick”; they’ve experienced these sleep positions even if they didn’t know their official names. Now, with The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions, new parents can identify exactly which bedtime contortions they’ve already mastered and perhaps preview some positions that baby hasn’t tried yet. Read an excerpt from The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions.

By Charlie Capen, co-author of The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions

My father was the typical radio DJ/writer. An anti-establishment renegade, he was a professional at both charming people and pissing them off. My parents separated when I was young. Dad looked after us while my mother was away on business, and when he did, we reaped the benefit of a ton of future stories.

One spring day, in seventh grade, I was waiting for him to pick me up at school. He was late, as usual. I was just preparing to do my two mile walk home when he appeared, putt-putting up the school driveway in his old Volvo. I was relieved because the man, for all his finest points, was a ‘forgetter’ and today he had not forgotten.

He parked midway in the school driveway, and as he began to get out of the car, I squinted to get a better look at him. I noticed that his hair was sopping wet and his wrinkled shirt was drenched. I was 15 to 20 feet away as he rounded the front-end of his car. Below the waist, he was wearing just a towel.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said with the verve and swagger of a person not quite in his right mind, which he usually wasn’t.

Just then some friends of mine exited the school. I executed my best riot police push move: “Dad let’s go. Come on. Let’s go. Let’s go. I’m serious. Come on.” But my father liked going slow when people wanted him to move fast. It was one of his trademarks.

My father died almost six years ago and I dwell on his choices and his search for something he never could quite articulate. As an actor, I’ve played some very flawed people with abandon and openness because of my dad. Being a father now myself, I have so many questions about his behavior, about mine, about how I was as a child from his vantage point.

We laughed and played and enjoyed each other so much. Our singular style of humor and inside jokes is now an endangered species. My brother and I try to keep it alive. But I can only hope to embarrass my kid(s), as my dad did me.

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