Monday, January 28, 2008

Gay Pride

Big news in the Tarpley household.

Six-year-old Ethan proclaimed, "I am gay, and I am single."

I said, "Do you know what that means?"

He said, "Yeah, it means a boy who's in love with another boy. I'm in love with Aaron. We're going to get married. Then we're going to adopt a baby and name him Spot."

"A baby named Spot?"

"Spot is a dog."

Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Grandmother Tarpley

I bought a January 1961 issue of National Geographic on eBay last night. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that that was the issue featuring a fold-out, cutaway view of the Eisenhower White House.

If you were like me, at some point around 1969 or 1970 you found that issue in a back bedroom of your grandparents' house in Tulsa, and spent the next 2 years wearing out the pages memorizing all the rooms of the White House.

Perhaps, if you were really a lot like me, you even built a scale model of the White House completely out of paper in your grandparents' living room, only to destroy it two hours later in a fit of anger over something that was obviously the fault of your older brother, Brad, who never did really possess your extraordinary sense of creativity despite his butt-kissing straight-A smugness.

But I digress.

I was excited to find that old magazine, and I can't wait to get it, and tonight I thought--for an instant--"I'll call Grandmother Tarpley!"

But of course I can't call Grandmother Tarpley. It's funny how you can suddenly and urgently miss someone who has been gone for 9 years. But of course I do. Every now and then, over something really important like an old issue of National Geographic, I do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


"Samuel and I always agree, but never at the same time."
--Ethan Tarpley

Big Brain Theory

My official response to this week's NYT article is: Huh?

I gotta say, I'm usually enraptured by the pinings of astronomers and cosmologists. Cosmos was one of my favorite books of all time, and was an impetus toward my studying the history of science in grad school. I love Stephen Hawking, Freeman Dyson, anyone who ponders the vastness of the universe and our little place in it.

And yet I get the unmistakable feeling that cosmologists are just making shit up at this point.

Back in the day, I was blown away by the notion of 100 billion galaxies of 100 billion stars each, not least because it made for a great conversation starter at frat parties with the shy chick who had wandered outside to get some air. ("Hi, I'm Todd. Wow, check out that sky tonight. Did you know there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy?")

But when the cosmological conversation shifted to the part about most of the universe being made up of dark matter--which, well, nobody knows what the hell that is, basically--and then the concept of how many dimensions there are, and whether some are folded back onto each just started to kind of get like an insider-y Mensa meeting, and, frankly, I was married by that point anyway.

So my reaction to this latest weird article is essentially a yawn and a shrug, with a sidebar comment that the human brain, which is the size of a Big Mac, has some inherent limitations in its ability to comprehend the nature of the universe. I've given up on trying to be smarter than everyone else and am now just as happy to discuss Britney and Jamie Lynn.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hording Things

Samuel inherited Jennifer's brown eyes, her aversion to risk, and her penchant for hording things.

Jennifer dutifully keeps cancelled checks, receipts, plastic bags, instruction manuals for small appliances, 0% credit card offers, kid cups from Pizzeria Uno, and every holiday and greeting card ever received.

I'm the opposite extreme. I throw away direct-deposit pay stubs as soon as I get them. Ditto for the 10-page Amex bill, as soon as it's paid. I never read instruction manuals, much less keep them. If I lose a button on a shirt, I'm likely to throw away the shirt.

Today I was looking for--dare I admit--old checkbook records, and, naturally, the two months I was missing were the only ones since 1967 that I couldn't find. (I know, I probably threw them out, but I like to think they're just buried somewhere under all the other crap.)

Samuel was watching me go through desk drawers throwing all the junk I was finding into a pile on the floor to be thrown away. He kept stopping me and saying, "I want to keep that."

I said, "You want to keep this scrap of paper from two years ago with some hand-written jibberish on it?"

He said, "Yes, it's a secret code."

I said, "What does it say?"

He said, "I don't remember. But I want to keep it in case I remember."


Friday, January 11, 2008

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ethan's Evil Plot

The boys are back in school this week. Samuel was ready, Ethan was not. His plan was to bring Pookie (the cat) to school, where it was certain to attack the principal, causing the postponement of school for at least another week. Cute at 6, less cute at 16.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Okie State

There was only one big story in Iowa this week, and it wasn't the Caucuses. It was Iowa vs. Okie State, also known as Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, Men vs. Schoolgirls, or Attack Your Opponent Mercilessly While He Tries to Crawl Off the Mat in Front of 14,000 Screaming Fans.

The announcer says "Your Iowa Hawkeyes," the team emerges from the tunnel, headgear flapping in their hands, and chaos erupts, with the Iowa Fight Song fueling the cheers. 14,000 loyal Hawk fans, decked in black and gold, have filled Carver-Hawkeye Arena to the gills on a cold winter night to see this.

For 10 Hawkeye wrestlers, this is what's called a big night. If they win, it will rank among the happiest moments of their entire lives. They'll be telling their grandkids what it was like to beat Okie State at Carver Hawkeye Arena. (They'll tell their wives their wedding day was the happiest moment of their lives, but they'll be lying.)

If they lose--you don't even want to think about that.

Well, tonight...not only did the Hawks lose...they stunk. They wrestled like they had the flu. Like 8th grade schoolgirls who just finished running a mile in gym class. They were out-slicked on their feet, out-hustled from the top, ridden like Christmas ponies on the bottom.

It is a sad night in Iowa City, and in an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


This year at midnight I was lying on the sofa doing a Sudoku puzzle while Samuel was sitting next to me playing Nintendogs ("Dachshund version," he adds). Kahlua was nestled between us, shuddering from the sound of fireworks. Ethan was playing with balls on the floor ("pretending they were aliens," he adds), and Jennifer was, um...loading the dishwasher.

The good news: there is not a lot of alcoholism in our family.

As for resolutions, I resolve to find a way to make a living doing what I love, which is to lie on the sofa doing Sudoku puzzles.