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Hide Your Wife

In a meeting in 2012, I was startled when someone suggested that Marilee needed to go away.  As part of a PR and promotional strategy, it would be best if I didn’t talk so much about my wife, they explained.  And, if I could show up to a few events without her, that wouldn’t be a bad idea.

This wasn’t a private one-on-one meeting where an off-the-record opinion was being offered.  It was a planning session that included a whole team of people, and MIA Marilee was an official strategic option.  I was floored.  At the time, I didn’t outwardly react according to how I was feeling.  I was enraged.  I was offended.

That wasn’t the first or last time this type of advice had been offered.  The argument from those making the suggestion is this:  my fan base is made up of a lot of women.  You want to always appeal to them, not turn them off.  “Women need to think you’re available to them,” someone said.  That is incredibly shortsighted and insulting to women.

I was in LA last week, and the suggestion was made again:  hide your wife.

Clearly, I haven’t followed the advice.  Marilee is everywhere.  I talk about her, I write about her, and I show up to plenty public events with her.  She has never been and will never be part of a PR strategy.  She is my life.  It’s impossible and unnatural to cut her out in some way.  I would hope that her presence would make me more appealing to the wider public, not less.  Ironic, isn’t it?  The suggestion that a happily married black couple is not the image I would want to put out there!

However, as I sit here talking to Marilee about this blog, I’m surprised to hear her say:  “I get it, T.J.  They think you have to market the illusion of availability to women.”  Let’s see if she still feels that way when I disinvite her from the public events on our summer schedule.  It’s only a PR strategy, baby.

Daddy Daycare (cont’d)

1:26pm A loud siren can be heard right outside the apartment.  10 seconds later, a loud child can be heard awakening in her crib.

1:40pm Get her ready to go to lunch, but our departure is delayed.  The princess is missing one of her slippers.  The missing shoe is finally discovered under her changing table.  I wonder how it got there?

1:45pm Arrive at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants.  Get a great table outside.

2:05pm Three young, attractive women stop by our table and gawk at Sabine.

2:10pm Another young woman stops by and marvels at the cuteness of the daddy-daughter lunch date.

2:15pm Another woman stops by.

2:20pm Two more women stop by.

2:22pm I remember that I’m married.

2:45pm Leave the restaurant, stop and get a movie, then head home.

2:53pm Talk to Marilee by phone for the first time today.  Says she’s coming home early.  I tell her the child is fine.  She repeats, “I’m coming home early.”

3:49pm Sabine throws her first fit of the day.  Lasts only 15 seconds as she quickly realizes I’m not the parent who spoils her.

Daddy Daycare (cont’d)

10:40am I receive an email from a network president asking when I might “have a second to chat.”  He must not be following me on twitter today.

10:45am Diaper still not changed.

10:51am I ask Sabine a simple question: what’s that on your face?!  I eventually got it off, but I honestly don’t know what it was.

10:52am “Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog!”

11:00am No more Mickey.  We’re now watching Sportcenter.  I gently explain to Sabine that from now on, her only cartoon mouse options are Speedy Gonzales, Jerry, Pinky, or The Brain.

11:05am Diaper changed.  Wow.  I had no idea momma had Sabine on a high-fiber diet.

11:12am Pick up Sabine, and she immediately rests her head on my shoulder.

11:20am Little one is sleeping.  I have at most two hours to get work done.

11:28am This nap won’t last long if my upstairs neighbor keeps dropping s— on the floor!

Daddy Daycare (cont’d)

 9:45am Pulled out the FAO Schwartz “Big Piano” for her to play.  Neighbors lovin’ us right now.

9:52am Piano didn’t occupy her for long.  To the kitchen we go!  Pots and pans are all over the floor.  Our next homecooked meal will have a hint of baby feet.

10:05 First signs that it might be naptime.  Rubbing the eyes.  Getting a little irritable.  But I’ll be OK.  Where is Sabine, by the way?

10:11am Sabine goes into her room and closes the doors behind her. AND, turns on her white noise machine.  If I can get this kid to change her own diaper and cook her own meals, I’ll be golden.

10:21am Was attempting to make some notes for my commencement speech to the Clark Atlanta class of 2014.  Sabine has crawled halfway into the fireplace.  Hands are black with ash.

10:30am Is Mickie Mouse always on TV this much?!?!  Good lord.  He’s the Anderson Cooper of the Disney Junior Channel.  Oh, I should probably change her diaper, huh?

Daddy Daycare

I just cancelled my entire week.  No meetings, no events, no appearances, no travel.  Instead, I’ve been handed an assignment that will require my full attention.  And her name is Sabine.

This is our first child care emergency, I suppose.  We got late word that Sabine’s regular daily caregiver would have to be out for the week.  So, it’s on me.

But so far, so good.  Right?

8:20am Marilee leaves for the day.  I immediately hear Sabine say, “it’s on now, Daddy!”  (Though it’s baby babble, I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.)

8:45am Sabine has been in front of the TV the past half hour watching “The Bible” miniseries on BluRay. (Don’t ask)  I’m able to write a few emails and finish writing an article in that time.  This calm will not last.

8:55am Been chasing Sabine between the bedroom and the living room.  She can’t seem to decide if she wants to watch “The Bible” which is playing on the TV in the bedroom … or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse which is on the TV in the living room.

9:00am If I hear Mickey’s damn “Hot Dog” song one more time, I might actually have a breakdown.

9:23am I just heard the “Hot Dog” song again.

9:35am Sabine attempts a somersault off the couch.  She sticks the landing.

Best Date Night Ever

What a night!  I was anxious to get back home to New York after 3 days in Washington, DC. The weather has been beautiful lately in NYC and lends itself to dining alfresco.  A night out at one of my favorite restaurants was in order.  No need to make a reservation.  They know us well there.  “How many in your party tonight, T.J.?”  “One and a half,” I replied.  “And, can we have a high chair, please?”

The two of us have been out to restuarants together plenty of times before.  It’s always fun and interesting, but we’ve always done breakfast or lunch.  Her age, bedtime, and mood often dictate that she can’t be out so late.  On this night, we were making an exception.  This was actually our first ever dinner date.  Just the two of us.

And my little dinner companion was a hit.  We sat at a great table situated on the corner of 3rd Avenue in Manhattan.  With the steady stream of pedestrians, we made a lot of new friends who kept stopping to check out my date’s big smile, big blue eyes, and bigger-by-the-day hair.  I always love when people are impressed by my date!  This was a little different, however.

It was all a little different.  This date didn’t mind that I ordered for her, or that I cut up her food into little pieces.  The conversation was good and constant, even though we speak two different languages. (English & baby babble)  And, at the end of dinner, there was no awkward moment over who would pay the bill.

A few years ago, I might have been racing home from an out-of-town trip so I could hook up with (fill in the blank) for a date night of dinner and drinking, with every intention of taking her back to my place.  Well, last night, at the end of the night, I took my date home.  Took her home, changed her diaper, put diaper rash paste on her butt, put her pajamas on, read through her “My Itsy Bitsy Spider Tab Book,” and rocked her to sleep.  What a night!

I wrote an article a few months ago about giving up my perfectly good bachelor life.  Who knew that giving it up would eventually lead to much better date nights.

Ladies, we only need two minutes of your time

It will take you longer to read this article than it takes nearly half of all men to finish having sex.  And this is a fairly short article.  But consider, if two people start having sex right now, the man will either be asleep or smoking a cigarette by the time you read the last word I’ve written here.

Two minutes, ladies. That’s all you’re going to get from a lot of guys.  Two minutes.   

I imagine a few women just exclaimed, “No s—, TJ!”  The fact that many men don’t last long during intercourse isn’t necessarily worthy of a breaking news alert.  But, new analysis is shedding more light on the situation, and men’s sexual shortcomings. (Pun intended)  READ MORE

Messed Up a Perfectly Good Bachelor Life

“It’s funny that when a man hasn’t anything in the world to worry about, he goes off and gets married.”  — Robert Frost

What the hell was I thinking?!  I was 31, single, making good money, & living in Atlanta, a city that’s been described as “happy hunting” for a single guy.  I was living the life my grandfather told me, as a small child, to live: “Why get married and try to make one woman happy … when you can stay single and make them all happy?”  Granddad would have been proud. READ MORE