Today Best Dad Evar can be found in the midst of blaring music, 20-somethings with bare shoulders and tight shorts, heavy breathing and the smell of sweat. Over the noise of his own pounding heartbeat, Best Dad Evar hears the soft voice of his conscience, er, personal narrator.
Best Dad’s head shakes involuntarily at the intrusion. It’s as if he’s in his own little world, his zone, his… perfect elliptical stride. “Go away!” he mutters to the voice in his ear buds.
“But Best Dad, I’ve been thinking.”
“So what?!” Best Dad is exasperated now.
“Thinking about our last conversation, about religion, heaven and hell…” the narrator refuses to give up, continuing to butt in on Best Dad’s gym routine.
“All right, out with it.”
“In light of your beliefs-”
“Or lack thereof.” Best Dad intrudes, rudely.
“Yes, that. In light of that, you have a problem to think about.”
“Just one?” Best Dad replies, a bit nastily.
“One in particular.” the narrator goes on, undaunted.
“Yeah.” Best Dad replies, his sarcasm turned down several notches.
Best Dad Evar shifts uncomfortably on the pedals of his personal training machine, not saying anything for a long time. “Don’t remind me,” he mumbles finally.
“What are you feeling, Best Dad?” The narrator keenly identifies his pained expression and body language.
“When I think about death,” Best Dad replies carefully, “I immediately get a pit in my stomach, an uncomfortable sensation-”
“I believe you’ve just described paralyzing, debilitating fear,” the narrator.
“Well, that might be going a bit far, but when I have those thoughts, I get shaky. I have to change the subject. Take my mind away from it.”
“Every time?” the narrator wonders. Best Dad Evar nods.
“Wow.” The narrator pauses to assess. “So how do you deal with this fear?”
“I think about my plan.” He says with a quick, certain nod, the kind of nod that only those who actually lack certainty can manage.
“Your plan to cheat death?” the narrator responds in a tone that suggests a smirk, that is, if Best Dad could see the expression on his face, which he can’t.
“No, no. No one can cheat death. Even the religious know that.”
“So what are you planning?”
“I’m planning to use whatever time I have to leave a legacy.”
“A legacy.” The narrator says with no question implied this time. It’s as if he’s letting the idea sink into his head. “Your writing?” He finally wonders.
Best Dad Evar smirks himself at the thought. “My writing… hmph. I don’t know what kind of legacy that will be. It feels like a parody of my real life.”
“Well, even if it is, it’s something that could survive after you’re gone.” Best Dad scoffs. The narrator continues undaunted. “It could even last a long time-”
“I doubt it!” His scowl quiets the narrator, but it fades as he realizes that a blonde young woman, who was probably born after his hairline started receding, has looked at him with her eyebrows raised slightly. Best Dad looks back at her for a second, maybe a second-and-a-half, but just as quickly turns his eyes back to the green digital numbers that display how many calories he’s burned tonight.
“All right, Best Dad. What’s your legacy plan then?” The narrator’s question prevents Best Dad from dwelling on what kind of impression he’s made on the pretty young thing.
“Okay,” Best Dad’s mind is now completely back on the subject, “Number one is to have my DNA continue to live on in our species.”
“Yes, you have two children, so you’re off to a good start.”
“Uh, huh.” Best Dad’s face displays just a hint of pride as he nods.
“And you’re giving them a very strong foundation-”
“Of course it couldn’t hurt to have a few more.”
“What?!” The narrator is downright doubtful, “your wife has other ideas.”
“Yeah, but there are other ways…” he says with a slight smile. He sneaks a peek over at the young blonde nearby. “I have a lot to offer fertile young women, don’t you think?” He says with a devilish grin.
“Best Dad Evar!” The narrator scoffs disgustedly. “You’re going to sleep with other women just to pass on your genes?!” Best Dad peers over at the young woman again without answering, openly admiring her figure, at least as long as her eyes are turned toward the magazine in front of her.
Finally, the left corner of his lip turns upward and he slowly says, “Of course, I don’t have to sleep with them to pass on my genes, do I?”
The narrator makes a sound that’s akin to a pirates “Aargh!” as he realizes he’s been had.
“Gotcha!” Best Dad smiles broadly, showing off the crow’s feet aside his eyes.
“A sperm bank.” the narrator says in a small voice.
“I haven’t actually done it, but it’s a thought I had.”
“That seems ethically… ambiguous.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s something I have to think through before I do anything. I just haven’t had the time.”
“What else is new,” the narrator says knowingly.
“I have other legacies to pass on, though.”
“Right, your family trees.”
“Not just family trees. I’m also making digital copies of family photos, collecting and organizing our written history and I even have a digital audio project that I plan to work on.”
“Wow, now that’s a legacy you can be proud of.”
“Yes, I already am proud of what I’ve done so far, and I feel like I have a lot more I could do.”
“A life’s work.”
“Mmhm.” Best Dad replies.
“But one life’s work isn’t enough for you.” This is not a question, it is a statement of fact. Best Dad’s head drops a bit and he chuckles softly. The young blonde is looking over at him again, but he just smiles ever-so-slightly and nods at her while slowly turning his eyes back to his machine.
“Nope, it’s not enough.”
“Nothing is ever enough.” This is an accusation but BDE just smiles through it.
“No, but I’m not so dissatisfied that I’m going to jeopardize the good work I’ve done so far…” he cocks his head toward the pretty young thing without looking at her, “while I pursue my next project.”
“You’re wise beyond your years, Best Dad.”
Eventually Best Dad must leave the comforting, simple throb and beat of the gym and its music and embark for home. Home typically means a completely different kind of noise, and today is no different. Even from outside his front door, Best Dad can clearly hear the caterwauling of two … what, cats? No, screech owls, maybe? Oh, no, it couldn’t be crazed, hungry or injured animals, it’d have to be his daughters. He opens the door and is almost blown backward again by the volume from within.
“What are you two doing?!” He yells immediately upon crossing the threshold.
Two sets of eyes turn toward him and the noise stops. Then just as quickly it begins again as both run full speed toward him yelling “Daddy!!” and “Best Dad Eeevahr!” at the top of their lungs.
“Ooof!” he says as they both crash into him, giving hugs and chattering incoherently.
Shortly he steps back and looks at them suspiciously. “Why are you calling me ‘Best Dad Eeevahr’” he says emphasizing their deliberate mispronunciation, particularly eyeing older child, who is fond of the name.
“We’re making up a song, Daddy!” Younger child shouts loudly, then dances away, her feet pounding mercilessly across the stained carpet.
“A song about you, Best Dad Eeevahr,” older child says, while tilting her head and pouting her lips in that way that she only does when she’s proud of herself.
“A theme song for Best Dad Evar?” He asks, raising his eyebrows in amusement.
“Yeah! Yeah! A theme song!” They’re both shouting over each other again.
“All right, let’s hear it.” He says, shaking his head. Not knowing quite what to expect, but sure he will have to listen to it. Older child makes a huge production of setting up a stage, and moving (shoving) younger child into just the right position. It takes several moments until she’s convinced it’s just right. All the while younger child’s hands are wagging around and her fingers are dancing, so excited to get to perform their little song.
“Ooookay.” Older child says, waving her arms. This is her way of letting her audience know she’s ready to begin. She begins to sing in a style that’s reminiscent of a middle school cheerleading squad:
“Best Dad Eeevahr’s good, no, great!
Best Dad Eeevahr serves food on a plate
He’s so great that he makes me cheer
He makes me cheer right outta here!”
There’s a pause, and then older child turns and whispers into younger child’s ear. She quickly sings her part:
“A bootie too and a la la loo
Rallay loo to the foo lay roo!”
Immediately older child starts up on her next verse:
“The children are my sister and me
I like to copy his family trees
Best Dad Eeevahr’s hilarious, too
He helps my sister pee and poo!”
Best Dad waits to see if there’s more. But then the girls are both bowing and asking how he liked their song.
“Is that how we’re going to end my theme song?” BDE asks, his eyes questioning, but his lips making a slight smirk of distaste. The children are oblivious.
“Yes, Dad, that’s perfect,” older child beams. Younger child claps and laughs heartily.
Best Dad Evar can’t help but smile and nod. “You’re right, girls, it’s perfect.”
“You’ve got a lot of work to do.” The narrator comments after Best Dad has made his way back to his closet to change out of his workout clothes.
“Hey, don’t be insulting my legacies!” Best Dad Evar replies sharply.
“I was only joking, Best Dad, take it easy.”
“Ha! This time you got me.” He says with a chuckle, tossing down his sweaty shirt and sweat pants in an all-too-familiar heap on the floor.