This reminded me of that famous day, four years earlier, when a friend asked me to take care of her 10-year-old son for a morning and afternoon, while she (I don’t remember which) either went out of town or had to work someplace where she couldn’t bring him along.
She would ask any of her friends to do this and normally they would take the kid to a laundromat while they did their laundry, or make him sit in their kitchen while they did household chores.
We went all out, that kid and me. I took him to the Top of the Rock, bought him a basketball at the NBA Store, we tooled around midtown, him dribbling the ball up and down 5th Avenue, I constantly yelling after him to be careful, he ignoring me.
At his suggestion we hopped a bus and went up to Central Park to see Cleopatra’s Needle, an ancient Egyptian obelisk I did not know existed in Manhattan.
He was overclocking, his energies reaching insane escalations. I didn’t want it to end, but it had to.
We talked of going out to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to check out the Unisphere, but it was too late for such a journey. I had to get him home. I did.
He and his mother and everyone around them talked about this day for years, with a mix of envy and respect. Everyone in those circles would say stuff like “Damn, best I can think to do is take him to the laundromat.”, or “All I ever did was make him sit there at the kitchen table while I vacuumed and washed dishes.”
I last met him at his mother’s funeral. He looked good. Sad, more growed up since when I knew him that day in 2012, but healthy and alive.
All told it was enough to make me think I coulda been a good dad.