Posted by: laughs4dads | March 5, 2010

Bad Influences, Part 2, or “Hello, Uncle Gary.”

In the last post, I wrote generally about bad influences.  Now I’d like to talk about our bad influence, Casey’s Uncle Gary.

Uncle Gary is married to Barbara’s younger sister, Karen.  They have always lived about 10 minutes from us and, when Casey was a baby, Karen was her favorite person in the world, including Barbara and me.  So, as you may guess, Karen and Gary babysat quite often.

Now Gary was a bit atypical for a bad influence in that he was not a con-man or a starving artist or an inventor or a merchant marine.  At the time, he actually held a responsible position in an electrical contracting company.  (This also qualified him to serve as our all-purpose handyman, a job with only one prerequisite: the person has to be handier than me.  This ensures that 98% of the western world, and a few Australian aborigines, can apply.)

You may ask why we allowed a person with a real job to be our daughter’s official bad influence.  You probably think we couldn’t find a really good bad influence.

Well, Gary did just fine.

You see, he suffered from the delusion that he still lived on a college campus and that everyone, including Casey, was a fraternity brother.  This meant that:

1. He thought everyone, including Casey, was a drinking buddy.
2. He thought everyone, including Casey, was somebody with whom he might potentially place a bet (and Gary will bet on things like pre-season Australian-rules football).
3. He thought everyone, including Casey, wanted only to join him in watching every conceivable televised sporting event and sharing his rooting interests.

In regard to this last point, it should be understood that Gary is a world-class master with a remote control, and, especially in spring during the NCAA championships, moves from channel to channel with a blurring speed that makes it difficult for a mere mortal to identify the sport being played, much less the teams that are playing it or the score.

Given this description of Gary, you may gasp at the knowledge that there were times when Barb and I entrusted the care of our darling daughter to Gary and Karen and, God help us, actually left the premises.

Each time we did this, Gary would take it upon himself to broaden Casey’s horizons in some small way.

The first time, we returned to find Casey had learned the adorable trick of walking over to Gary (who has a glass of single malt scotch permanently attached to his hand) and clinking her baby bottle against his drink.

“Pretty good, huh?” Gary asked when Casey demonstrated for us.

“Very cute,” we said.

Another time, during the football season, we came home from a night at the movies and saw our innocent daughter raise her bottle over her head, spike it furiously to the ground, and yell “Touchdown.”

“I’m working on the dance,” Gary said.

During the baseball season, I was watching the Met game one night, when Darryl Strawberry came up.  From behind me, in the general direction of Casey’s chair, I heard a little voice chanting “Dar-ryl, Dar-ryl.”

“Gary’s been over, hasn’t he?” I asked Barbara.

“Yes,” she replied.  “He says she’s almost got ‘Let’s Go Mets,’ too.”

Anyway, Casey survived Gary’s influence and, in fact, Gary and Karen’s own kids seem to be turning out just fine, despite the fact that Casey (who is older than her cousins) used to enjoy dressing up the older one and hiding the younger one in places like clothes dryers.

Yes, that’s right.  In one of those examples of “what goes around, comes around,” my daughter became the bad influence for Gary’s kids.



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