By the time you read this (assuming anyone is reading it), I’ll be home, but right now, I’m in Richmond, Virginia, where I just spent too much money on four Flying Squirrels T-shirts.
This, sadly, is the kind of thing I do every time I travel on business, no matter how many times I tell myself not to.
In the beginning, the deal was I’d bring the kids a little something the first time I visited a place. The second trip, no present, but I never really stuck to that, because I’m an idiot.
So, Thing 1, the oldest, usually gets a T-shirt, and Thing 2, who’s too young to know what things cost, used to get a single Hot Wheel. (Hot Wheels are about $1 each.)
It’s hard to find Hot Wheels at airport gift shops, though, so I’d swing by Target a few days before I left and pick one up.
Thing 2’s single Hot Wheel, though, eventually became a 5-pack of Matchbox cars (which is only about $5), but then he started asking for Matchbox playsets, and then bigger Matchbox playsets, and because I don’t travel that often, I thought, what the heck. He’s a good kid.
Then, Thing 2 discovered Batman, so then he wanted those Fisher-Price Imaginext action figures and accessories, and I thought, what the heck. He’s a good kid.
So, before I left for this trip, I stopped at Target to pick up the Joker’s hideout — which I justified by telling myself it costs about the same as a T-shirt. I left it in the trunk of the car.
Now, back to those Flying Squirrels.
The Flying Squirrels are Richmond’s brand-new minor league baseball team. They’re the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, and Richmond is nuts about them.
I’m from Nashville, Tennessee, and I thought Nashville liked the Sounds, but that’s a grade-school crush compared to the steamy love affair going on here.
They’re selling Flying Squirrels T-shirts at the airport and Flying Squirrels pennants in the lobby of the hotel. Everyone I’ve talked to here loves the team, and when I mentioned that I wanted to get a Squirrels T-shirt for Thing 1, the folks I was visiting said I just had to stop at the souvenir shop at the ballpark, because it was right up the street, so, that’s where we went.
I picked out a T-shirt for Thing 1 and, because I love minor league baseball, I thought I’d get a T-shirt for me, too, so that’s 2 T-shirts at $20 a pop.
I realized I hadn’t gotten my wife anything on this trip, so I got her a T-shirt, too.
But then I thought Thing 2 might feel bad we had Flying Squirrels T-shirts and he didn’t, so I got him one, too.
My thinking — which, in my defense, was muddled by the fact I got up this morning at 4:30 Nashville time — was that if everyone got a T-shirt, then we’d have parity, and no one would whine, which, let’s face it, is the goal of every parent with young kids.
Only, I’d bad-parented myself into the exact opposite of parity because I’d forgotten about the Joker’s hideout waiting in the trunk of the car back in Nashville (which I shouldn’t have gotten in the first place).
So, Thing 2 has 2 presents, and Thing 1 has 1.
I know what you’re thinking. Save the Joker’s hideout for Christmas or take it back to Target, but Thing 2 was very explicit before I left that he wanted it, and when I called home tonight, he asked what I was bringing him.
“I can’t tell you,” I said, hoping he’d forgotten about the Joker’s hideout.
“OK,” he said. “I don’t care what you bring me, but I really hope it’s the Joker’s hideout.” It sounded vageuly like a threat.
So, I’m going to put the T-shirt away and give it to him later — much later.
Hopefully, he won’t notice that he’s the only one without one.
And when I travel again, no one gets a present, no matter how much I miss them.