Posted by: laughs4dads | March 3, 2010

Bad Influences, Part I

Every family has at least one.  It’s usually somebody everyone likes, somebody often described as “colorful.”  He or she is the life of the party, a real fun person, somebody with whom you like to hang around.

Somebody you don’t want near your child.

A person like this is usually referred to as a “bad influence.”  We just call him Gary.

I’ll get to Gary in my next post.  Today, let’s look at the qualities most often found in your typical bad influence.

This person is colorful because he lacks a sense of responsibility.  Perhaps he works at an unusual profession, like, say, pool hustler.  Or maybe he has eschewed the nine-to-five life in favor of holding out for that one gig that will make him rich.  Maybe an invention.  Or a gold mine.  Or a bank with poor security.  A cousin of Barbara’s used to spend his life trekking through the wilderness with a minimum of supplies, except when he followed The Grateful Dead from concert to concert.  True, he settled down somewhat when Jerry Garcia died, but even then he chose to settle in Driggs, Idaho (population at the time, around 50, not counting livestock).

Although this cousin had the perfect career for a bad influence, he lacked the second essential qualification: Accessability.

It stands to reason that one cannot influence someone else in any manner if one spends virtually all his time either climbing rocks in Montana or selling “Long Live the Dead” t-shirts outside America’s arenas.  A bad influence must be near the influencee frequently, or at least more often than the occasional bar mitzvah.

Finally, and here comes a paradox, the bad influence is usually a lovable character, which is why he is around all the time in the first place.  We don’t mind having him in our house.  He is a source of fascinating stories, and we wish we were more like him.  We wish we were as outgoing, as effervescent, as fun-loving.

We just don’t want our kid to be that way.

Isn’t that interesting?  Here are all these qualities we admire and covet in a fellow adult, and yet we don’t want any of them rubbing off on our kid.  In other words, we want our child to be as boring as we are.

In the next post, I’ll describe Gary, our family’s official bad influence.




  1. Too funny – I cannot wait to read the next part!

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