[Tonight’s centerpiece is a previous MCC entry dated October 18, 2012. The photo, intro, and epilogue are new additions for follow-up purposes in light of upcoming major events.]
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Wednesday is Guy Night.
Of all our household’s rules and guidelines that aren’t Scripture quotes, one of the simplest and most scrupulously enforced in our family is four simple words: Wednesday is Guy Night. What we call “Guy Night”, normal people call “father/son quality time”. Then again, normal people rarely use the word “enforce” in that conversation.
This rule was instituted in spring 2003 after a blessed but stunning turn of events that resulted in my obtaining custody of my son from my ex-wife. This unbelievable, unpredicted, somewhat intimidating lifestyle change occurred after six years of liberal non-custodial visitation, thousands of literal miles of two-way ferrying, and countless little reminders from society and the media that, in 105% of all divorce situations, the mother is good and the father is evil. The short, impersonal summation of our situation is that it had become necessary in the opinion of the majority of those affected, and thus it was written.
I believe Guy Night was my best friend’s idea. I trust her as usual to correct me gently if I’m misremembering. When he moved back in with me full-time and was no longer a beloved privileged visitor, we decided it was important to establish as soon as possible after the big move that — whatever else might be done with my week, with his schooling, or with other family and friends — he and I needed a regular block of time carved out that we could dedicate to spending with each other. When she and I married in 2004 and merged households, this became more important than ever with the closer quarters and the advent of the prefix “step-” into numerous aspects of our new living phase.
We felt Guy Night needed to be scheduled, it needed to be sanctified, and it needed to be dependable. Trusting our quality time to happen “whenever we felt like it”, “whenever we had time”, or “whenever we weren’t busy” wouldn’t do. The distractions and interruptions of everyday living are so mighty a military force that they don’t even need weapons to usurp your will and commandeer your day. Thus was “Guy Night” negotiated and born. Every Wednesday night, he and I would set aside everything else around us and see what activities we can share. It was something we could point to and say, “That’s ours.” Post-wedding, it would also became a weekly opportunity for my wife to enjoy time alone from our household’s overbearing male majority.
Rescheduling or postponement of Guy Night is allowed under three kinds of uncontrollable exceptions:
1. Major holidays. This year, for example, Halloween will interfere because of trick-or-treaters. Much the same has occurred with a few Christmas Days and Eves.
2. Family emergencies. A few weeks ago, my son and I returned home from an appointment to find that our cute little dog had torn a claw half-asunder from a digit and was bleeding profusely from his cute little paw. We donated over an hour of Guy Night to the worthy cause of an emergency trip to the vet.
3. Ten tons of homework. This is rare, but has happened once or twice. He’s usually diligent about finishing assignments before the end of the school day, or at least on the bus. He hasn’t flunked a class yet, so I’m reluctant to criticize his methodology.
End of exceptions. Anything else trying to get between us and Guy Night is gonna lose. This has happened a lot over the years. I’ve missed concerts, distant-family get-togethers, autograph signings, one-night-only restaurant specials, even a few church functions. Those schedule conflicts engendered various levels of disappointment, some of them not small. It’s a shame they were programmed opposite Guy Night.
Wednesdays at the local comic shop are New Comic Day. I buy my weekly fix on my lunch break so it doesn’t infringe on the Guy Night time slot. Guy Night means I don’t read the entire stack that same day, so I have to avoid Internet spoilers for the rest of the week until reading time avails itself between more important activities. I’m fine with this.
Guy Night means that Wednesday night TV shows could only be secondhand viewing, which is something I tend to procrastinate for weeks on end until a cumbersome pile-up of unwatched episodes scares me away from ever catching up. I therefore generally avoid Wednesday night shows for the principles of simplicity and guilt-free living. This is the very first and foremost reason why I never became a fan of Lost. I may still watch it someday on DVD when my current boxed-set backlog is exhausted around age sixty, but its first three seasons aired on Wednesday nights. TV is not allowed to compete with Guy Night.
Even at work, where the “flextime” concept is an amazing benefit, I make no secret that Wednesday is my early day. I start my full shift in the wee morning hours so I can leave earlier in the afternoon and allot more minutes to Guy Night. Wednesday is not the best day to come at me with a shipload of problem cases. Sometimes this means my Thursday mornings are lethal. Fair trade, in my book.
My Internet time on Wednesdays is likewise limited. If anyone picks that day to post something momentous on Facebook or gut-busting on Twitter, I’m guaranteed to miss it. Guy Night means even this humble blog’s Wednesday evening writing sessions have to wait their turn in line after 10 p.m. before receiving my full attention. I tend to lose more sleep than word count, but Guy Night will not be shortened for that purpose. (Admittedly, I do need to strike a better balance somehow, if only for my own health and my wife’s concern for same. While I’m thinking about it, something simpler such as “Movie Trailer Wednesdays” might not be a bad idea for future consideration. Or “Here’s what I bought at the comic shop this week”, or “Our video game progress tonight”, or “Weekly Goofy Haiku”, or whatever.)
In the big picture, Guy Night is worth the sacrifices. Granted, our shared activities of choice tend to run 80% video games and 18% DVD marathons, but the experience and the intangible benefits are something that are still jointly ours. Now that he’s a high school senior and mulling over college options out of town, the shelf life for the Guy Night tradition may have an expiration date in sight. Until then, we plan to make sure that it doesn’t expire with large portions spoiled and unused.
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[This entry is much harder for me to read now than it was for me to write at the time.
Sooner or later, everything mortal ends. Even the happy mortal things.
Next week my son moves away to college, over an hour from here, concluding ten years of Guy Night tradition effective tonight. We even went two hours over schedule so we could wrap up loose ends in our final game together.
I suspect my Wednesdays are about to feel really discombobulated for a while.]